“If the modern prison is a failed Protestant social experiment, what does it mean if there's a church on the inside? ”
While much work has been done in North America to address mass incarceration as a social and moral crisis, and the proliferation of scholarly literature sees no end in sight, interdisciplinary theological reflection has been missing from the conversation, and none has been done by formerly incarcerated scholars like myself. My work intervenes in the conversation with theology’s frameworks and analytical tools to address the subject, and with a personal intersectional theological assessment that more fully accounts for what the empirical data reveals about carceral ecclesial life. If the "prison church" exists, then, as an indigenous, interracial, transformational actor inside the prison, how should we understand in theological terms its relationship to the prison, and to other actors operating within and upon the prison, and to the wider North American church? Drawing from 24 interviews with formerly incarcerated participants in the prison church, my own personal experience of life in the incarcerated church, along with the social scientific data and literature, this project will culminate in a book titled, Prison Church: A Theology of Ecclesia Incarcerate, utilizing the theological framework of the ecumenical Creed for analysis of the prison church’s lived theology.