Kairos Prison Ministry International (Kairos) brings Christ's love and forgiveness to incarcerated men, women, youth, and their families through Christian volunteers. Kairos is a Christian, volunteer, lay-led, ecumenical, international prison ministry which consists of three programs: the Men's Inside and Women's Inside Ministries begun in 1976, Kairos Outside (to support families of the incarcerated) begun in 1991 and Kairos Torch (to reach incarcerated youth in juvenile detention) begun in 1997. Kairos inside weekends are much like the Walk to Emmaus 3 day retreat weekend, but focused on the special needs of the incarcerated.
By sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, Kairos hopes to change hearts, transform lives and impact the world. Kairos sprang from the Cursillo movement and is supported by volunteers from the 4th Day movements such as Cursillo, Lutheran Via de Cristo, The Walk To Emmaus, and Tres Dias as well as volunteers from independent and non-denominational churches. As a ministry, Kairos embraces a diverse group of volunteers working together to fulfill Christ's call to action in Matthew 25:36.
Kairos volunteers, number over 36,000 and serve in over 400 institutions and 55 Kairos Outside communities in 35 states and 9 countries: Costa Rica, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
In Pennsylvania, Kairos is active in 7 men’s state and federal prisons, 1 women’s state prison (Muncy), and two Kairos Outside communities (Western PA & Eastern PA). First Church has supported Kairos at Allenwood Federal Penitentiary, and State Correctional Institution at Chester – both medium security facilities.
Kairos Prison Ministry International, Inc. is a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit corporation chartered in the State of Florida.
The word, Kairos, is a Greek word meaning in God's Special Time or in the Fullness of Time indicating an opportunity for our participants and guests to re-consider their life choices - as hearts are changed, inmates begin to take responsibility for their actions - it's like a front row seat at a miracle - transforming lives and impacting the world.
“In 1996 I was assigned to be the Warden at the Marion Correctional Institution. It was a dark place and Kairos brought the light of love and hope. Over the next ten years the miracles mounted, peace replaced violence, hope replaced despair, broken relationships were restored and incarcerated men lived their faith unapologetically. The culture of the prison changed dramatically."
~ Christine Money, Former warden at Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio
What does Kairos Prison Ministry do inside prisons? Kairos Inside addresses the spiritual needs of prisoners. Kairos volunteers go into prisons in teams of 30 to 40 to pray, share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, share meals and fellowship with the incarcerated on a one-to-one basis. The first visit is a three-day event, during which time the team teaches a short introductory course on Christianity. Subsequent visits are monthly half-day reunions with the prisoners over a twelve-month period.
Does Kairos Prison Ministry Operate outside prisons? Kairos Outside provides spiritual healing to families of the incarcerated, who often feel that they too are "doing time". Spouses, parents and other relatives of prisoners meet with teams of Kairos volunteers to share their faith and gain strength from Christian community.
How else does Kairos minister to incarcerated? Kairos Torch provides a ministry to youthful offenders, the most rapidly growing segment of the prison system. Because young people between the ages of 13 and 19 are generally housed in smaller institutions than adult offenders, smaller-sized teams participate in this ministry.
How does Kairos Prison Ministry impact those incarcerated or affected by incarceration? Kairos Prison Ministry affects our communities in many positive ways. Lives have been changed and former inmates return to our communities as more responsible and less violent citizens. Former inmates become better spouses, parents, employees or volunteers and give back to society. Tax payers benefit!
How committed are our Kairos volunteers? In 2008, Kairos volunteers donated over 3 million volunteer hours to the various departments of corrections here and abroad. If you multiply 3 million times the minimum wage in the USA of $6.55 per hour, our ministry donated over $18 million in volunteer time. Volunteers paid an additional $2 million for supplies, bringing the total donation to $20 million.
How many weekend events does Kairos conduct? In 2008 we held 618 weekend programs in 309 ministry sites: 502 Kairos weekends, 80 Kairos Outside weekends and 36 Torch weekends. The remaining volunteer time was spent in pre-weekend and post-weekend trainings and activities.
How does Kairos Prison Ministry affect the lives of volunteers? The program also has a very favorable effect upon volunteers. Many volunteers acknowledge that the team training, with its emphasis on introspection, honesty, sharing and community, enhances their spirituality. Kairos Prison Ministry serves our communities and reduces the number of victims by changing inmate lives. Mary of the inmates who participate in the entire Kairos program return to our communities as better and less violent citizens, thereby making our neighborhoods safer.
What do Corrections staff members think of Kairos Prison Ministry? Kairos programs have gained the respect of the correctional system too. In a study of 505 inmates released from Florida prisons, the recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session, and 10% among those who had participated in two or more Kairos sessions. The non-Kairos control group in the study had a recidivism rate of 23.4%.