Progressive Prison Ministries: The First Ministry in the United States Created to Provide Support for Individuals, Families and Organizations with White-Collar and Other Nonviolent Incarceration Issues. Greenwich CT & Nationwide

Monday, March 25, 2013

White Collar Ministry 3 - Why Greenwich? Why Bridgeport?

Progressive Prison Project 
Greenwich, Connecticut

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In Early December, I was on my way to the Fresh Start Holiday Party in Bridgeport.   Fresh Start is a program of Family ReEntry, a nonprofit that serves formerly incarcerated persons and their families in Fairfield County.  Since I was Vice Chairman of Family Reentry, I was invited to attend the party.  I liked going each year to give support to the clients and staff, and also because the party was thrown in the reception hall of the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport.  Family ReEntry rents space in this church to run its Bridgeport programs.  As I had been at the Family ReEntry programs many times, I knew and felt very comfortable at this church.



As I walked into the church on this particular day, something told me to go to Pastor Scott’s office before I went into the reception hall.  On reflection, it wasn’t a strange thing to do; I had been greeting Pastor Scott in this manner since I had been accepted to Union Theological Seminary.  As I progressed and then received my Master of Divinity, we increasingly had more and more things to talk about.  We spoke for a long time and when we were through had the blue print for me to become the Associate Minister/ Director of Prison Ministries for the church.  Both Pastor Scott and I both knew it was perfect for me.  I told him I needed a week to discuss it with my wife Lynn, take good counsel from trusted advisors, and to pray about it.  It was unanimous – we were heading to Bridgeport.



In my new position as Associate Minister for Community Outreach and Development/ Director of Prison Ministries, I have been given the freedom to continue and advance other projects around the state.  The Progressive Prison Project is a Greenwich-based project that offers compassionate and experienced assistance to all persons and families going through these difficulties on all ends of the social and economic spectrum .  Similarly, I am involved in a project based in New Haven uses a strength-in-numbers strategy to help empower those individuals and social networks that are most affected by incarceration and inequities of the US criminal justice system. 
 



As a Greenwich resident, it used to be easy for me to believe that things that happen in places like Bridgeport could never happen to my family.   But that was before some difficult things happened in my family that made me look at things differently and more clearly.   And as I think about it, after events in Newtown and other recent events in this county, how could any reasonable person ever again take that position?



Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, and other towns in Fairfield County are not so far away from Bridgeport, only a few exits on the Merritt or I-95, or a few stops on Metro North.  I invite all of my friends and neighbors to email me, give me a call, or come visit me at the church - or I'll gladly come to you.  Let’s talk about how we can work together to make things better.




Jeff Grant, JD, M Div                                                                                    
Director, Progressive Prison Project                                                           
Associate Minister/Director of Prison Ministries                                               
First Baptist Church of Bridgeport Connecticut            
jg3074@columbia.edu
(203) 339-5887

Experienced and Compassionate support of families affected by incarceration issues on all ends of the social and economic spectrum. 

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