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First Member Fireside Inside UK Prison

by Yvonne Runcie-McMahon

Jesus Christ

21 Church members attended the evening, initially meeting in the HMPYOI Hindley’s Multi Faith Chapel to receive further information. Previously all Managing Chaplains had to be Anglican but more recently the opportunity for all faiths and none to be represented has become available throughout the UK.

A short presentation was made by a prisoner called Marcus. He was humble and candid in his attitude to his sentence and relayed to the visitors how he came to be at HMPYOI Hindley. He explained how he had been trained as a “Listener” by the Samaritans and how he is able to help other prisoners in need of help during times of crisis. He hopes that upon his release in the near future, he will be able to continue offering such support by returning to work with Chaplain Jay Marshall as part of the team.

Elder Roy Tunnicliffe, Area Seventy attending also spoke of an example from Matthew 25: 42 - 45

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

He went on to say that there is always hope for Heavenly Father’s children. We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be disciples of Christ in the darkest of places to bring light, hope and purpose for the future to those we serve in prison.

A short tour of the prison was made by the visitors before returning for a final presentation on the chaplain application process, shared by Anglican Chaplain Alan Pierce-Jones. He commented that if there was one thing we could take away from our visit it would be “… to pray for us as a chaplaincy team.” He went on to commend members of the church for their Christ-like attitude and experiences in ministering to others making them ideal candidates for a chaplaincy role which involves compassion and listening to the needs of others.

Church member, Clare observed: “I think many were surprised at the peace felt in that small chapel as we gathered together to hear about the opportunities available and how we could play our part. I'm grateful for all the work that Jay and his colleagues have done in laying a foundation to create better links between the Church and the prison service. I'm sure it will be a rewarding and enriching journey and perhaps even breakdown some barriers and perceptions around who we are, what we believe and what we do.”

Graham Gifford, Liverpool Stake Director of Public Affairs commented: 'It was an interesting night, and Jay has given us lots to think about, in terms of what we can do to support the chaplaincy work. The Saviour said, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” As members of the church, we have a wonderful opportunity here to extend our ministering skills to serve the people who live and work within our local prisons.”

All this was made possible through the patient work of Jay Marshall LDS Managing Chaplain and member of Wigan Ward. Jay has served as Prison Officer and Senior Officer since 1995 at various establishments around the country.

In 2015, Jay transferred over to the Chaplaincy Team at Hindley and became the Managing Chaplain. Jay oversees all aspects of religion, welfare support to both staff and prisoners, as well as family engagement at the Prison. He has been a member of the Church all his life and served in many different callings.