Our interviews with formerly incarcerated people indicate that people who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, or questioning are often not welcome at worship services or Bible study inside prisons. Worship leaders in prison rarely offer a liberal religious home to people who are interested in spirituality more than religion; are reflecting on important questions and seeking truth and meaning; have a gender identity or sexual orientation other than heterosexual; or are survivors of domestic violence. "Inside" refers to being inside prison or jail. Those in the free world are "outside."
UU Covenant Groups in Prisons and Jails
UUPMI facilitates UU covenant groups in prisons and jails, inspired by circle keeping practices from the restorative justice movement, and involve two rounds where participants share their experiences and thoughts related to the topic of the session, all which provide opportunities for inner reflection and community building.
Co-facilitators are asked to take an In-Prison Circle Facilitator’s Training. We are usually leading UU covenant groups in Cook County Jail and resume soon at Logan. We continue to work on getting them into more Illinois state prisons for men. To register for the next available workshop, please contact us.
If you would like to volunteer to co-facilitate a covenant group in a prison or jail, please contact us.
NOTE: Covenant group co-facilitators must complete the application procedures, criminal background checks, drug tests, and potential fingerprinting as required by the individual prison or jail they will be going into. Individuals are not permitted to do program volunteering at a prison where they have a loved one and/or pen pal.