Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Female Inmates Become Ministers

The Mississippi Department of Corrections issued the following press release.  

The Mississippi Department of Corrections made history Wednesday when a group of female inmates received seminary degrees toward becoming effective ministers at the Magnolia Correctional Institution for Women within the state prison in Rankin County.


A class of 12 women became the first female class to earn associate degrees during a commencement on May 17 in a newly built non-denominational chapel at the women’s complex within the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. The seminary program is an extension of the Leavell College of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary which has operated within the Mississippi Department of Corrections.


Commissioner Burl Cain said the seminary program already in place at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman was a major factor in his taking the leadership role for the agency. He praised the efforts to establish and continued operation of the program, first for incarcerated men and now for women, and the inmates’ participation.


“I’m here because of this. It’s amazing what God has done. He has created this in Mississippi,” Commissioner Cain said. “Just look at what God has allowed you to do. It’s amazing.”


Twila Nunnery, one of the graduates chosen to speak for the class, noted church attendance has quadrupled among inmates has grown with almost a third of the inmate population attending regular services with support from prison staff.


“We studied long and hard, formed bonds, and learned how to come out of our comfort zones to spread the word of God,” Nunnery said, adding that she appreciates the support inmates receive from prison staff.


Dr. James K. Dew, president of the Seminary, said the women’s value as people is important and what the graduates do with their education and experience matters for them and others. “No matter how unloved you may have been before, in Christ, you are seen. You are known and most important ladies, you are loved,” Dew said.


Dr, Beth Masters, director of the women’s seminary program, commended the graduates’ perseverance and work ethic and is looking forward to the next group of 22 new students.


“I am incredibly proud of the women who stayed the course and graduated and I am looking forward to seeing them earn their bachelor degrees,” Masters said. “I am also excited for the students coming into the seminary this summer.”


Standing before a room filled with family members, friends, and other guests, the graduates carried signs reflecting their past feelings and signs of their new optimism. The commencement included musical worship as well as student testimonies followed by words of encouragement and prayer commissioning before degrees were conferred. 


The fully accredited New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary program was started at the state prison in Parchman about 15 years ago and has turned out many classes of male graduates. The program for women started two years ago at the state prison in Rankin County. 


Graduates are not ordained, but they work alongside the chaplain department in all areas of ministry. Graduates may also work toward earning a position as a field minister within the facility.


To participate in the program, inmate applicants must have at least 10 years remaining on their sentence, be free of rule violations for at least one year, and have completed high school or a high school equivalency education. Applicants must also complete a 12-week course to prepare for the seminary. After admission into the seminary program, students must complete 126 semester hours of coursework to earn their degree.     


Anonymous said...

Everyone finds God in prison.

Maybe if they did that BEFORE committing crimes there might have been a different outcome.

Anonymous said...


Extremely sad and telling of your own unhappiness and hardened heart that this was your response to this post. Take some time to reflect on yourself today.

Anonymous said...

kingfish, thank you for posting this information. Prisoners often are not rehabilitated, but these women are experiencing rehabilitation. The Baptist seminary is ministering effectively (and no, I am not a Baptist).

Anonymous said...

Looks like we found the person without sin who cast the first stone.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:51. I wish it were true that everyone found God in Prison, but unfortunately that's simply not the case.
Fortunately the Bible tells us it's never too late in this life, not even for thieves and criminals: The thief on the cross was saved at the last minute and is spending eternity in Heaven. (See Luke 23)

AMEN to these ladies! May they each serve as an integral part in a much needed revival of the love of Christ in this country, and may God bless their ministry.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:51 Thank you! ������������

Anonymous said...

Better late than never, 8:51. Are YOU on board?

Wow said...

You are not God. It is not for you to judge the journey of others. It is not for you to hold every single thing happening in this world in your hand and understand what should or should not be the outcome.

Grateful this program exists and that these women know they are loved eternally.

Anonymous said...

They should be doing hard labor, not lessening the value of a college degree.

Anonymous said...

10:40 - im not really taking sides on this, but you did just chastise someone for judging others’ journeys and then you finished up your comment doing exactly the same thing by judging the same people’s journey.Be consistent - or is judgement only allowed when you are in agreement?

This program may be legitimate or it may easily be exploited. We need all eyes and views on this or else we will create a feel good illusion for ourselves or become overly jaded on progress.

Anonymous said...

So the Baptist are ordaining female ministers now? Or was that a KF hyperbole title? Having a seminary degree doesn’t make you a pastor. Congrats to these ladies and hope it spreads!!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the course work and requirements definitely reflect a challenge for someone to complete.

Congrats to the graduates !!

Anonymous said...

Article states that graduates are not ordained 11:58.
May they take what they have learned through these courses into their homes and families and be a positive example to all they meet. Even just one can make a difference to someone else.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 8:51 AM - as a former prison employee I’ve noticed that upon being incarcerated the first thing a prisoner grabs is a Bible.

Kingfish said...

The Mayor kept the restaurants closed to dine-in service much longer than the burbs did. The CB only reopened for lunch and had a hard time getting staff. It seemed busy for lunch every day but I don't know how accurate that can be just judging by the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Although I am an atheist, I do see value in religion classes for prisoners. Rehabilitating many of the offenders requires they form some sense of morality. For people who don’t already have that within themselves, religion can certainly provide some direction and meaning. Philosophy classes may also be beneficial. There’s no better place to learn new behavior patterns than when at rock bottom searching for answers and self improvement with plenty of free time to think. Congratulations to these women, I hope their work provides new opportunities and direction.

Anonymous said...

I became an ordained minister in 5 minutes. I am recognized by the great state of Mississippi to perform marriages. Cost me $23.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to learn how many of them continue as ministers once they're paroled and released into the mainstream. Or if not paroled, how many of them are carrying out a charade in order to effect parole.

Anonymous said...

I completely support the program. Finding God in jail is still finding God. Even if you lose it when you leave you have been exposed to God. Brother Burl doing work.

Anonymous said...

9:19 - Nah Dawg. I live by society’s laws and follow the Ten Commandments. I won’t be in prison for that very reason. I don’t need to study the Bible and feign piety to have a happy, free, and content life.

Prison is there to rehabilitate those that are capable of it. Unfortunately, most are not capable of it.

Build more prisons and lock away the wicked.

Anonymous said...

@8:51 AM, I’m getting a different sort of vibe here. These women are bucking the trend by putting their time served to good use. Some, most, or all of these women could make a real difference in people’s lives. Usually, it’s the other way around. Live an outwardly upright life, get your divinity degree, then let loose your inner grifter, capitalize on the prosperity gospel, and milk every last sucker upon whose back you build your megachurch.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at who owns the seminary and why the church was built at MDOC. #followthemoney

Wow said...


Please rebuke me and make me aware of my judgement? I would be grateful to understand.

My message's intent was a strong reminder to myself and to open others that it is not for us to know the plans and outcomes of God. When looking at an event, it is easy for us to intersect it at a specific point in time and view it in black and white terms and say this should have happened instead of that.

Over eternity, it is infinitely more complex and impossible for us humans to evaluate in terms of what was is the best outcome or not. That is in God's hands. And I am grateful for that. The enemy often sows bad seed in the field, but we are not to cut down the plants with the weeds growing among them. We are to let them all grow together until harvest time. Then the harvester will decide which plants belong.

Anonymous said...

The Lamar County Sheriff Office's jail food service provider recently provided ServSafe food service training, with the certification hopefully leading to the inmates securing good jobs upon release.

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