Each month the Bishop Payne Library invites a member of the VTS faculty to
share what books they are reading for research, curriculum or pleasure.
Mitzi J. Budde, D.Min.
is Head Librarian and Professor at Virginia Theological Seminary. She is part of the VTS “Your Story Matters” Bible Study and Art Ministry for women imprisoned at the Alexandria Detention Center. She served as project manager and a contributor to Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book
, which will be published by Augsburg Fortress in August 2019. Here are her recommendations:
Parishes should be safe places for people to share their “less respectable parts” appropriately in Christian community, this book argues. Drawing lessons for the local church from the prison congregation she serves, the author addresses mental illness, addictions, domestic violence, poverty, incarceration, and other troubles that parishioners face, along with healthy boundaries, accountability, and conflict resolution. Each chapter ends with discussion questions to help parishes more fully become “communities of love and forgiveness” by being “messy, raw, and real.”
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” lawyer and advocate Bryan Stevenson writes in the Introduction. He presents the brokenness of the U.S. criminal justice system through stories of individuals that his Equal Justice Initiative has defended. He describes the unequal treatment and extreme forms of punishment of prison life and offers a counter-argument for true justice tempered with compassion and mercy. (This is also available as an ebook at Just Mercy electronic resource
This collection of essays challenges congregations to acknowledge the often-hidden realities of incarceration among parishioners and their families and equips them for this ministry, from prevention through imprisonment to re-entry. The book suggests that parishes should provide ministry, pastoral care, visitation, and support to those who are incarcerated and to their families as they do for sick and hospitalized members, and it makes this ministry understandable and feasible.
This children’s book describes in age-appropriate terms what’s happening when a parent or family member is incarcerated. It also helps children identify the emotions they may experience and the ways that they may be acting out in response to a parent’s arrest. Suggestions and resources for adult caregivers and teachers to offer support are included at the end.