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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Disrupting Shame, By Jeff Grant

Progressive Prison Project 

Innocent Spouse & Children Project 

Greenwich, Connecticut 
Disrupting Shame
By Jeff Grant 

Lynn and I preached last Sunday at the First Congregational Church of Danbury - our topic was, "Disrupting Shame through Faith, Truth and Service."  No doubt, this is a theme we've learned a lot about over the last decade or so.  

We had been asked to guest preach by our friend Rev. Pat Kriss - Pat, her husband Gary and we had all been parishioners at the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich.  We supported Pat as she went off to Yale Divinity School, to her first ministry post in North Adams, Mass., and then to become Senior Minister at Danbury. They supported us as I went to Union Theological Seminary, and as we founded inner-city prison ministries in Bridgeport and white-collar ministries back in Greenwich. 

Our plan was to talk about two projects we had worked on over the past five years, and how through faith, truth and service we were released from our shame.  We never got around to talking about the projects.  Instead, we went deep into talking about shame - and about the shame that people feel when they go to prison and that family members feel when their loved ones go off to prison.  

We talked about the shame that infects and divides families if we don't take affirmative steps to prevent it - shame that lingers and grows in difficult, unpredictable and insidious ways.  That creeps up like a cancer on family units, fueled by so-called friends and disingenuous community members who want to prevent us from having a second chance in life.  

We talked about our homes as divided places - with men who go off to prison shattered, mere shells of the vibrant fathers, husbands and partners we used to be.  And the long road back to self-worth upon our return.  And the ravaged families we left behind trying to pick up the pieces, existing in all kinds of unfamiliar family dynamics - with little or no resources or support. 

We talked about how there is little compassion or understanding - how our families were thrown out like dirty dishwater and shunned by so many.  Our shame was left to fester and grow in isolation.  

We found that we were being released from the crushing weight of this shame by only letting the light shine on it - no more secrets, no more shame.  The way out seemed to be through faith, truth and service to others.  

We talked about how our faith in God and our service to others came first - after all, we have both been in recovery for over a decade.  But truth, real truth, is a process.  It is something that unfolds and reveals itself as we speak more about it - as we let it out.  As we give it light and peel away the layers.  As we no longer hide from it.  As we no longer allow shame to rule. 

So, our sermon last Sunday did not go exactly as we'd planned.  But, but as is the case with so many things - we'd allowed God in, so things turned out even better. 

Some Comments from Linked In:

Excellent job Jeff and Lynn...keep on with the's quite rewarding. I particularly like the phrase..." fueled by the so-called friends and disingenuous community members who want to prevent other folks from having a second chance in life." You couldn't have called it any better...awesome! 

Program Director at A Village For Humanity


Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Director
at Christ Church Greenwich

254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA 06830
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate
(m) +1203.536.5508


First Baptist Church of Bridgeport

126 Washington Avenue, 1st Floor
Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA 06604

Jesus Saves Ministries
784 Connecticut Avenue
Bridgeport. CT 06607

Cathedral of Praise, C.O.G.I.C.

65 Gregory Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604


  1. I am a white collar felon (insider trading), and this post bears tremendous relevance for me.

    I struggle daily with issues of shame. For me, shame is about acceptance - at times I can discuss with an almost brash nonchalance what happened to me. At other times, I find myself reserved, reticent. Ashamed.

    The process of recovery, for me and for others, invariably involves confronting our own judgments as well as those of others. We have to learn to accept ourselves.

    In the good moments, I live in gratitude. I understand the various narratives of what happened and do not let any single one preoccupy me. I feel sorrow yet am grateful for the blessings that I do have.

    Life happens, and were I to live in victim-hood for the rest of my life I would champion the prejudices of others. I am determined now to define my own life. It will be good. I hope.

  2. Good morning Jeff and Lynn: As I read yet another wonderful article from you and I get so much out of it so thank you, I am coming to realize very important lessons out of my journey. As Brent will be gone almost a year soon, my life is turning around. For all those who judged our family, who defriended our family and who simply turned their backs, I found myself forgiving these same people. I ask for compassion but yet I also have to give it. I can't expect for them to completely understand the experience, I ask them for compassion. Yet, I too have to give it. Compassion for forgiveness. It is truly the first step to living. God Bless.