Faith community prays for those inside of prison while outside

The prayer vigil participants wanted to make their presence felt to the inmates and prison guards.

Faith community prays for those inside of prison while outside
April 27
04:35 2017

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



Many people believe the power of prayer can have a profound impact on a person’s life.  Last Friday nearly 300 people from 50 churches gathered together outside of the Forsyth County Jail to pray for the inmates, their families, staff, victims and the successful re-entry into society of the offenders upon release.

The prayer vigil was organized by the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries, which has been holding the vigil off and on for the past 12 to 15 years according to Ministry Chaplin Rodney Stilwell.  The vigil surrounded the jail on all sides.

Each participating church had an assigned area and some individuals prayed together as a group while other chose to pray individually. Stilwell says over the years the number of participants varies but the goal is always the same.

“The number of people who come out goes up and down from year to year but what has never changed is the spirit of people who want to send a message to the community and the men and women inside,” Stilwell said.  “The message to the people on the inside is that we have not given up on them.  The message to the community is that we have to take ownership of our crime problem and we have the means to fix it.”

Jone Reid, a Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministry volunteer, said she loves coming to the prayer vigils because it is a prelude to another ministry they are involved with named hope on the Inside outreach-where they hold a retreat on the inside of the jail for a half day.

“It’s a good gathering of churches of all different denominations,” Reid said. “The gathering of Christians from other churches means a great deal to me. It’s basically having church outside the walls of the church. It’s very powerful and it moves the heart of God.”

Along with prayers, a Moravian church band performed before the praying. The band played “Amazing Grace” to close the festivities.

Deborah Farmer, a prayer vigil participant, says she became aware of the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries because her two daughters were on the prison ministry board.

“I’ve been upset for years about the injustices in our prison system and how sentences aren’t fair,” she said. “The population that goes to prison is not representative of our country’s population, so there is something wrong with the prison system.”

“The biggest benefit is getting all of the people out here and aware of what’s going on,” Farmer continued. “I think the inmates will feel the spirit with all of us out here.”

The inmates acknowledged the presence of the prayer vigil participants by banging on the windows. Many watched from their windows for the entire 30-minute vigil.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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