A Time to Pray

A Time to Pray
September 25
00:00 2014

Praying residents surround jail

(pictured above:  Participants join hands and pray in front of the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center.)

Hundreds of people surrounded the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center last Friday evening to pray.


Organized by the Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministry (FJPM), the event called upon a ring of humanity to encircle the 11-story, 735-cell jail, which is located at 201 N. Church St. and houses misdemeanor and pre-trial offenders. Prayers were lifted not only for inmates, but their families, jail staff and those affected by crime.

FJPM used to hold the jail prayer event annually, but the effort was scaled back when participation dwindled. Last week’s event was the first in several years, according to Chaplain Rodney Stilwell.

Chaplain Rodney Stilwell stands in front of the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center.

Chaplain Rodney Stilwell stands in front of the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center.

“We want folks to know and be reminded that inside the jail and outside the jail, it’s God’s world, and God controls it. And we want to make sure people are reminded of that,” he said. “We want to send some hope that people haven’t given up on them.”

FJPM serves about 750 inmates and their families and about 200 staffers at the Detention Center by providing worship services, bible studies, life skills seminars and programs to help inmates reintegrate into society.

DSC_0012Stilwell said it takes about 350-400 people to form an unbroken circle around the jail. There weren’t quiet that many last week, but it was enough to surround the jail with a gap here and there.

Participants prayed on their own using various prayer style. Some prayed silently, while others were quite voluble with their spiritual supplications. Many joined hands; some raised their arms in praise. Others waved to the inmates, who could be seen watching the action below from the Detention Center’s tiny windows.

The praying lasted about 20 minutes and ended with participants singing “Amazing Grace.”

So Be It Ministries was among the many congregations represented at the event. The small church on Reynolda Road only has about 30-40 members. Pastor Mickel Hosey and his wife, Deloris, originally founded the church in Wisconsin. They relocated it here nearly four years ago when they moved.

Abraham, Barbara, Keyshia, Ayeshia, and Issac Grant with Deloris and Mickel Hosey

Abraham, Barbara, Keyshia, Ayeshia, and Issac Grant with Deloris and Mickel Hosey

Associate Pastor Abraham Grant is a longtime member of FJPM’s Yoke Fellows program, which allows clergy and laypeople to fellowship with inmates at the Forsyth Correctional Center on Cherry Street. He said he knew Friday’s prayer circle meant something to those inside the jail.

“It gives them a lot of hope and a lot of desires to do the right thing,” he said.

Tim and Cynthia Key’s longtime involvement with Yoke Fellows also brought them out. They became involved with inmates when a young man in their daughter’s church youth group was placed in the Detention Center. They started visiting him and wanted to become involved with others. They discovered their was a prison in Winston-Salem (the Cherry Street facility) and inquired about volunteering there. Eighteen years later, they now regularly take inmates out to eat and to church services.

Tim and Cynthia Key with Steven Dillard.

Tim and Cynthia Key with Steven Dillard.

“They’re human beings like anyone else,” Tim Key said. “Jesus went to the outcasts, the marginalized and the rejected … we realize they deserve another chance.”

Through Yoke Fellows, the couple has formed many bonds, including with Steven Dillard, who joined them in Friday’s prayer circle.

The Forsyth Correctional Center was his last stop during a three year incarceration that took him to five prisons across the state. Sober and drug free, Dillard has been out of prison for nearly two years and is gainfully employed with a Class A trucking permit.

He was in prison for trafficking cocaine; he now delivers drugs of the legal kind, along with cosmetics, to a warehouse two days a week. He works at Tim Key’s lawn care and handy man service the rest of the week.

Dillard, who lives in Guilford County, said coming to a jail, albeit outside, brought back a lot of memories and reminded him why he needs to stay focused.



“I feel like it’s only right that I come out and pray for the people who are going through the same struggle I went through,” he said. “…If they have their minds and their hearts in the right place, it means the world to them to see (us praying). If they’re thinking like I was thinking, they’re thinking, ‘That’s going to be me standing out there one day.’”

For more information on FJPM, visit

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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