“How can MCC, a tradition focused on the LGBTQ+ community, best provide spiritual advocacy for and with LGBTQ+ people who are incarcerated? ”
Following research into the formation and structure of so-called “prison ministries” in several faith traditions, and working with MCC denominational staff, I will formulate a structure for spiritual advocacy in MCC, to work with and for LGBTQ+ people who are incarcerated. The structure will include suggested training for clergy and lay members, support for those engaged in this ministry, recruitment of clergy and laity for the work, how-tos on various aspects of spiritual advocacy (court support, pen pals, public advocacy, jail/prison visits, and more), as well as locating resources to carry out the work. I will research best practices across faith traditions and incorporate them as appropriate. My previous work in this area ("Until We Are All Free: Spiritual Advocacy with LGBTQ+ People in Prison" Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Project 2019-2020) has shown that most people who are incarcerated who identify as LGBTQ+ do not have adequate (or, indeed, any) appropriate spiritual support, either while they are on the inside or after release. MCC as a denomination is focused on LGBTQ+ individuals—part of our calling, then, is to provide spiritual care to LGBTQ+ individuals throughout society—which includes the carceral system. In so doing, MCC not only carries out our Christian mandate to care for one another, but can provide a model for other affirming faith traditions.