Hill Correctional Center, Galesburg

Pr. Karen Norman Rees

In the Illinois Department of Corrections, Chaplains are “essential personnel.” Just as we (Lutherans/Christians) missed gathering as the body of Christ to worship during Holy Week and Easter, several religions also missed their High Holy Days/Religious Observances.  So too, am I attempting to find not just creative ways but any way for worship to take place within individual cells with no TVs, no internet, and no phones.  At the beginning of March I was required to come up with 3 plans of action for each group with an upcoming religious holiday/observance.  1 – everything remained as is; 2 – the prison was on quarantine; and 3 – Hill was on full lockdown with all offenders confined to cells.   I am fortunate that once Hill went on full lockdown and  I contacted the volunteer leaders they have very graciously supplied items that I have been able to distribute to offenders to keep their spiritual hunger fed.  There are restrictions as to where I am allowed to visit due to my “underlying conditions” but I am still required to be on campus during this time.  I hope that those I am providing ministry with see me to be God’s presence.  Not only offenders but of support to staff as well.