Free on the inside

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Offenders take part in tent revival

By Vince Luecke

A tent revival behind the razor wires of Branchville Correctional Facility stirred the spirits of hundreds of men incarcerated there. The facility was the first correctional facility in the state to sponsor a tent revival last year and another complex has adopted the idea.


Staff and more than 50 volunteers helped organize and facilitate the series of sermons, music, personal testimonials and inspirational speakers. Each of the 13 sessions promoted a positive message, the facility’s chaplains said.

Many of the speakers were volunteers who participate in other aspects of life at Branchville, including religious-service volunteers and people who help with the Purposeful Living Units Serve dormitory, Kairos program and Residents Encountering Christ. Local ministers and clergy also helped.

“I think the biggest message the event sends is hope,” said Lead Chaplain John Neece. “Some of the volunteers are past inmates and they can speak on a level the inmate population understands. Offenders also get to see something positive for a change and can see it over a weeklong period.

Some offenders get burdened with prison life and cannot see anything positive, but this event shows them there are still people out there who care and believe they can change.”