Progressive Prison Project
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Lynn and I preached last Sunday at the First Congregational Church of Danbury – our topic was, “Disrupting Shame through Faith, Truth and Service.” No doubt, this is a theme we’ve learned a lot about over the last decade or so.
We had been asked to guest preach by our friend Rev. Pat Kriss – Pat, her husband Gary and we had all been parishioners at the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich. We supported Pat as she went off to Yale Divinity School, to her first ministry post in North Adams, Mass., and then to become Senior Minister at Danbury. They supported us as I went to Union Theological Seminary, and as we founded inner-city prison ministries in Bridgeport and white-collar ministries back in Greenwich.
Our plan was to talk about two projects we had worked on over the past five years, and how through faith, truth and service we were released from our shame. We never got around to talking about the projects. Instead, we went deep into talking about shame – and about the shame that people feel when they go to prison and that family members feel when their loved ones go off to prison.
We talked about the shame that infects and divides families if we don’t take affirmative steps to prevent it – shame that lingers and grows in difficult, unpredictable and insidious ways. That creeps up like a cancer on family units, fueled by so-called friends and disingenuous community members who want to prevent us from having a second chance in life.
We talked about our homes as divided places – with men who go off to prison shattered, mere shells of the vibrant fathers, husbands and partners we used to be. And the long road back to self-worth upon our return. And the ravaged families we left behind trying to pick up the pieces, existing in all kinds of unfamiliar family dynamics – with little or no resources or support.
We talked about how there is little compassion or understanding – how our families were thrown out like dirty dishwater and shunned by so many. Our shame was left to fester and grow in isolation.
We found that we were being released from the crushing weight of this shame by only letting the light shine on it – no more secrets, no more shame. The way out seemed to be through faith, truth and service to others.
We talked about how our faith in God and our service to others came first – after all, we have both been in recovery for over a decade. But truth, real truth, is a process. It is something that unfolds and reveals itself as we speak more about it – as we let it out. As we give it light and peel away the layers. As we no longer hide from it. As we no longer allow shame to rule.
So, our sermon last Sunday did not go exactly as we’d planned. But, but as is the case with so many things – we’d allowed God in, so things turned out even better.
Some Comments from Linked In:
Excellent job Jeff and Lynn…keep on with the community-healing…it’s quite rewarding. I particularly like the phrase…” fueled by the so-called friends and disingenuous community members who want to prevent other folks from having a second chance in life.” You couldn’t have called it any better…awesome!
Program Director at A Village For Humanity
Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Director
at Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA 06830
Lynn Springer, Advocate
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport
126 Washington Avenue, 1st Floor
Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA 06604
Jesus Saves Ministries
784 Connecticut Avenue
Bridgeport. CT 06607
Cathedral of Praise, C.O.G.I.C.
65 Gregory Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604