Larry Mayer, Administrator,
In the late '90s, Associate Minister Pat Handley traveled with a group of First Church Alpha team leaders to an Alpha conference in the Boston area. During that conference, Larry Mayer had the opportunity to speak directly to the founder of Alpha—Nicky Gumbel, Vicar, Holy Trinity Brompton, London—about offering an Alpha course in the Connecticut prison system.
The first correctional facility Alpha course began in September 1999 in Cheshire, one of Connecticut's high security level prisons. This ministry has now expanded to include ten correctional facility programs, and also two community programs—one at a center administered by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), and the other at Isaiah 61:1, a Department of Correction halfway house. The ministry provides for both Protestant and Catholic inmates a sense of hope that, no matter the circumstances, there is an opportunity through a personal relationship with the Lord to have inner peace and a life worth living.
Collection of program data began in 2007, and from 7/1/07 through 12/31/16 a total of 3,456 Certificates of Completion have been signed by the Department of Correction Director of Religious Services and presented to offender participants. As offenders grow in their faith, positive life changes become evident, and it is hoped that the data collected will support the strong belief that the prison Alpha programs are effective in reducing recidivism. This ministry has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
As of 2009, the Alpha Prison and Community Ministry is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c) with principal goals to:
- Introduce the Christian faith to incarcerated Connecticut offenders and explain how it is possible to live the Christian life positively, practically, and joyfully
- Provide community Alpha Programs to help released offenders enhance their faith and live successfully in the community as productive citizens
- Involve annually in the ministry 200 Protestant and Catholic churches that will support this ministry through prayer, volunteer recruiting, and financial contributions
If you are interested in learning more about this ministry, including volunteering, please visit www.alphaprisonandcommunityministry.org, or contact Larry Mayer, Administrator, at 860.808.4842.