Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility is the only women's prison in the state of Michigan. Over 1800 women are incarcerated there. They range from teenaged girls to elderly women who have been convicted of everything from shoplifting to homicide. Sadness and lack of hope are common emotions among the prisoners at Women's Huron Valley. It is a place where suicide is committed and attempted too frequently; the women imprisoned there need to know God's love and the forgiveness that is available to them in Christ. Calvary Bible Church is conveniently situated to minister to these women, just across the freeway from where they live.
Calvary Bible Church seeks to serve these prisoners in three primary ways:
- Bridge Builders: A Christ-centered, biblically sound 12 step program.
- Visiting a prisoner: One on one visits with an inmate in the visitation room to provide encouragement and discipleship.
- Writing letters & cards: An opportunity to correspond regularly or occasionally with an inmate.
Each of these ministries is described in more detail below:
Bridge Builders is an evangelistic ministry led by women from Calvary Bible Church. It is a six-month course which meets weekly. About 24 women may be enrolled at a time. The women in the course are instructed from scripture to acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ for salvation, growth, and spiritual power while working 12 steps.
A weekly Bridge Builders meeting starts with a large group message taught by one of the volunteers from Calvary. When the large group session is over, the women separate into small groups of 4 to 6 for discussion led by one of our volunteer facilitators. This is a time for the women to share openly about their problems and struggles in a loving, trusting, structured environment - a unique opportunity for these women. Each participant has a one-on-one meeting with a volunteer to have a chance to discuss her understanding of the Gospel in an individualized format.
Currently, two groups of women are running separate Bridge Builders' sessions. One session meets on Friday mornings; the other meets on Saturday mornings. More volunteers are always welcome.
To volunteer in a program such as Bridge Builders, the State of Michigan requires you to undergo a background check and approval process. Once you have been given initial approval, you will be required to attend a volunteer training session at the Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility to become a volunteer there. Additional training regarding becoming a Bridge Builders leader is provided by the leaders of the ministry.
Bridge Builders Contact Form
If you are interested in volunteering for Bridge Builders, please fill out this contact form:
Receiving and reading mail is a highlight of an inmate's day because it keeps her from feeling isolated and alone while also giving her a connection to the outside world. If you choose to serve Christ this way, you will be assigned to a prisoner who has asked to receive mail as part of this ministry. We are looking for volunteers who will write about once per week. Your letters can encourage and instruct the woman who receives them from God's word, but you don't have to be a Bible scholar. If you have compassion for her and a growing faith in Christ yourself, you are ready to serve the woman who receives your letters. The prison uses an email system called JPay that allows inmates to send and receive mail less expensively than through the U.S. Postal system.
If you would like to serve a prisoner, but can't commit to writing weekly or serving with Bridge Builders, sending cards might be for you. It is common for a prisoner to receive no recognition on her birthday or during special occasions like Christmas. You could volunteer to send an occasional card on one of these special days. You would write to a different person each time, so there is no responsibility for ongoing correspondence with a particular inmate.
Letters / Cards Ministry Contact Form
If you are interested in volunteering to send cards or letters, please fill out this form:
Visiting a Prisoner
If you would like to serve a prisoner but can't commit to Bridge Builders, you might be interested in making a personal visit to one of the women in the prison. This ministry can begin informally, by establishing a friendship with one of the inmates through correspondence. Once you have established a friendship with her, she can request you be added to her visitor list, and you will also be required to submit a visitation application and be approved by the prison as a visitor. You can then set an appointment to visit her in the prison. When you visit, you can use the time talk about your Christian walk, do a Bible study, or review a Christian book. In between your visits you can continue to write to her in order to continue developing your friendship.
Another approach to visiting is by going through the process to become an Outreach Volunteer at the prison. This type of volunteer undergoes a background check similar to what is required of Bridge Builders volunteers. Once approved, you are allowed to make spiritual visits to any inmate during regular visiting hours, without an appointment.
Prisoner Visitation Contact Form
If you are interested in doing prisoner visits, please fill out this form: