Church ladies' take love and the gospel behind bars of women's prison

Church ladies’ take love and the gospel behind bars of women’s prison

The Faith
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[Lima News] LIMA — They’re known around the Allen County jail simply as “The Church Ladies.” Like clockwork, they arrive each Thursday morning and go through doors most women hope to never enter.

VIDEO: [NPR] Iowa’s new gender-sensitive approach to female incarceration yields promising results.

They go through metal detectors and up the elevator, into a small, non-descript room containing little more than a table and a dozen or so chairs.

A short time later, another group of women is escorted into the room. They’re all wearing the same black and gray-striped, county-issue jail uniforms. They’re doing time behind bars, but for a brief moment — for an hour or more on Thursday mornings — these women do their best set their real life problems aside.

The Church Ladies are here, and it’s time to laugh, cry and rejoice.

The Church Ladies are Barbara Ward, Jean Foy and Marie Keys. They’ve been ministering to women in jail in Allen County for a long, long time. All told, the three women have more than 90 years of jailhouse ministry under their collective belts.

Representing no individual church or denomination, they comprise the New Beginnings Ministry.

Ward, 73, the unofficial leader of the group, said she has been “doing this for more than 40 years, starting at the ‘old’ county jail,” where she would go every Tuesday night to offer hope and encouragement to female inmates.

This article continues at [Lima News] Heaven sent: Three Lima women minister to female inmates

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