Kairos; Planning a Return After COVID

March 23, 2021

 

First UMC of Covington and Kairos – Serving Together

By Sue Crise

In 2020, with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we knew it, changed. For many people, we can say we learned how to use Zoom for meetings or small groups. We learned how to use video and sound equipment to produce our own videos for church services, special events, or to promote our hobbies.

The use of Zoom and other social media sources has been useful during the past year, to stay connected to church members, but in some cases, in-person activity is the only method.

Prison ministry is a person-to-person ministry, especially for those serving their time in prison. Kairos volunteers have not been able to visit the prisons for any visits or weekend retreats since the COVID shutdown.
 

What is Kairos?


“Kairos Inside is a ministry whose mission is to develop a Christian community inside prisons. The Kairos Inside program brings positive and negative leaders together, in both male and female institutions, for a 3 ½ day Weekend led by same gender Kairos volunteers.”  The retreat is similar to Walk to Emmaus or Cursillo which are Christian-based weekend retreats developed to enhance a personal spiritual walk with God.

Kairos volunteers are planning for the day when visits will be allowed at B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center (RCC) in Angie, Louisiana, as well as other prisons across the state of Louisiana.

Recruitment of volunteers and support has begun by utilizing video and technical skills of supporters. Several short videos have been created to communicate the need for volunteers and the impact that Kairos weekend retreats have upon the offenders and upon the volunteers.

First UMC of Covington has actively supported Kairos International Prison Ministry for many years. Members and church family have given financial donations, provided thousands of cookies (12 to a bag!), written motivational cards and letters, and created artwork to display in prison cells.

Even Little School students helped by drawing art that could be given to the weekend retreat participants. All these donations are appreciated and needed but without Kairos volunteers, those that participate in the weekend retreats at RCC, the outreach cannot happen.
 

COVID Interrupts Kairos


In March 2020, just as COVID-19 exploded around the country and the world, a group of Kairos volunteers was scheduled to have a weekend retreat at Rayburn. That event was canceled, and visitation has been restricted since that time.

As of March 2021, the retreats are still on hold due to COVID restrictions, but Kairos volunteers are hopeful that the retreats can begin again when all have been vaccinated and events can be scheduled at the prison.

Ronnie Berg and Kairos friends have prepared a short video to help recruit new volunteers for future retreat weekend leaders. The retreats are beneficial to incarcerated individuals, who are helped by hearing about the Love of Jesus, from dedicated lay and clergy people, to make changes in their lives, and prepare for the day they begin a new life outside of prison. This video will also be shared with the Woodson Center of Washington, DC., an organization dedicated to “helping the residents of underserved neighborhoods address the problems of their communities”.

Ronnie also volunteered his time and skills as a National Trainer for Kairos weekend retreat leaders at local prisons. He shares his personal testimony about his involvement, how he began serving, his personal feelings regarding volunteerism, and why this outreach is so meaningful to him. 

On behalf of Kairos, First United Methodist Church of Covington thanks Ronnie Berg, Jim Shaw, Ron Kuerner, Rev. Jerry Crise, and Rev. Tim Lawson (not shown in video) for the many hours they have served as Table Leaders, Spiritual Leaders, counselors, and support people at retreat events at RCC for men, in Angie, Washington Parish, Louisiana.


 

Thank you to Daniel Rector and Aaron Harper for filming, producing, and directing these videos, which are created to increase awareness and educate others about the positive and lasting effects of Kairos Prison Ministry International, Inc. weekend retreats.


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