The PCA Model Really Works

Sep 24, 2017

by Carol Porter, former PCA board chair

The PCA model requires that each inside prison congregation is supported and visited by outside local congregations. The inside congregation is open to all who live within “the walls.” The outside church becomes a welcoming congregation for those who are released to the local community.

It was Saturday night and St. Mark of Lacey WA.’s opportunity to worship with the Living Stones Congregation of Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.  I decided weeks before to worship with the men of Living Stones and eight other members of my church.  As the men entered the prison room that serves as their sanctuary, the St. Mark members stood by various seats so we could interact with as many men as possible.

One man, Stephen, approached St. Mark’s pastor to share his story.  When Stephen was a child, he called St. Mark his church; his whole family did.  Stephen went to Sunday School, was an acolyte, and was confirmed in our church.  For some reason, he and his family left the church.  Stephen went onto live a life that brought him to prison.  Stephen had not been at this prison long, but heard of Living Stones and knew St. Mark was joining in worship this evening.  He wondered if he would know anyone who came to worship, he did not.

 After Stephen told his story, he asked our Pastor if he would take his mother’s telephone number and call her.  He was concerned about his mother and felt she needed to return to St. Mark.  Our Pastor explained this was not allowed. He could not take anything away with him that was given by a prisoner.  As we drove home that night, our Pastor was conflicted over the institutional rules and Stephen’s request.

On Sunday morning, as we began the church announcements, our Pastor told St. Mark this story.  He told of Stephen’s longing to return to his spiritual upbringing and the desire to help his mother.  Pastor told of his conflict between obeying the institutional rules and wanting to help this family who seemed to be suffering.  Then he told of God’s work!   Minutes before service began, Stephen’s mother called our Pastor!  Stephen had contacted her and suggested she call St. Mark. Stephen’s mother and Pastor arranged to meet later during the week.

After Pastor’s announcement, other long standing church members told how they remembered Stephen and his mother. The cute young boy filled with energy and love.  To those who knew him, Stephen was one of our own.   Many members talked about how we as a congregation could reach out to Stephen and his mother.  The energy that began to fill the sanctuary was infectious.  God was most assuredly present.



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