Forum on Incarceration

Virginia Ministry Conference is blessed to have leaders participating through various organizations associated with incarcerated individuals.

These include pastors engaged in face to face contact with prisoners, a representative for the Board of Trustees of the Chaplain Service Prison Ministries of Virginia, individuals involved in social policies associated with incarceration, and local individuals concerned about plans for the future of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Jail.

The VMC Congregational Life Commission is sponsoring a forum to provide an opportunity for all persons involved in prison ministry to share how they are involved, and to provide a question related to their engagement in the work they are experiencing. In addition all participants will have time to engage in conversation around the table in smaller groups.

Date: January 10, 2015

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Place: Ridgeway Mennonite Church, 546 E. Franklin St., Harrisonburg VA

Panel Members: Titus Bender, Dave Nickel, Carl Stauffer and Harvey Yoder

All who are interested in this conversation are welcome. We must have an RSVP by January 3 in order to make arrangements for lunch. Please RSVP by emailing Anieta McCracken, Administrative Services Manager. You may also phone (540-442-0735, ext. 135). The Conference asks for a donation to cover the costs of the lunch provided by the Ridgeway Mennonite Church.

Outcomes hoped for:

  • That our representative to Board of Trustees for the Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia receives counsel on how best to represent VMC
  • That VMC develops a unifying voice on key issues that impact incarcerated people and our community
  • Plans are developed for future conversations associated with VMC and various dimensions of ministry towards incarcerated people

About the Panel:

Titus Bender, representative to the Board of Trustees for the Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia .

Dave Nickel
Leader of “Us, Them, and Prison Ministry” workshop, Dave is a member of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship. For the past three years, he has served as a community-funded chaplain at Orange Correctional Center in Hillsborough, NC.

Dr. Carl Stauffer has worked in the field of justice for 23 years. He currently teaches Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice & Peacebuilding. He has travelled and worked in 30 different countries worldwide including 16 years of practice in South Africa and 20 other African countries engaged in post-violence reconstruction, transitional justice and reconciliation efforts. Stauffer served as Executive Director of the Capital Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (CAVORP) in Richmond, Va. 1991-1994. He helped to initiate the Survivor-Offender Mediation Network offering RJ services to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1995-1997. He was the founding director of the Victim-Offender Conferencing Pilot Project in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1999-2001. Stauffer is an ordained minister with the Virginia Mennonite Conference and will be speaking on the different applications and impacts of restorative justice practice both locally and nationally in regards to prevention, rehabilitation and reentry services to incarcerated persons.

Harvey Yoder was born in Oklahoma but grew up at Stuarts Draft, Va. As a student at Eastern Mennonite College (now University) in the early 60s, he became involved in a student-led jail ministry that resulted in a lifelong interest in prison reform. After his graduation, he served as pastor at Sion Mennonite and as part time teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School. For the past 26 years, he has been a professional counselor and pastor of a local house church congregation. He has continued to be in correspondence with prisoners over the years and to advocate for legislative change in how we deal with offenders. Topic for seminar: Advocating for Change in The Criminal Justice System.