Project Return: Zion's Prison Mission

Prison Mission Closing

Zion's Project Return: Prison Mission Closing

It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Zion's Prison Mission no later than October 31, 2011, because of lack of financing. The economic downturn has made it very not likely that other funding will become readily available.

You have actually all been wonderful partners. Your assistance and love for the Partnership Teams and the female prisoners reuniting with their families and society in general, has been the sustaining force of this ministry the last three years. With your partnership, we have helped 8 mothers as well as 25 youngsters in creating a far better life. This is no small feat. Together we have done things no person assumed we might do.

Any funds the ministry gets from here on will be given back to the respective donors with a note of thanks. There is now way to fully express our appreciation to every one of you for your monetary assistance the last 3 years. You answered the call in a time of much tension and economic hardship.

The seeds for Project Return

The seeds for this mission were planted in the late 1990s when participants of Zion started to take part in LSSI's Storybook Project, where volunteers go right into close-by jails to help incarcerated parents tape themselves reading books to their children back home. From the beginning Zion provided a lot of guides made use of for Storybook Project.

Zion's Prison Mission was a co-operative outreach effort with congregations of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod Northern Conference and various other regional ministries. Led by our Missionary to Prisons, the goals were to:

  • develop, coordinate and also promote prison ministry opportunities for the congregations of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod's Northern Conference;

  • establish as well as accomplish ministries with women inmates inside state correctional centers, government correctional establishments, as well as region jails;

  • develop, coordinate, and advertise an associate of Job Return prisoner reintegration ministry; and

  • offer other prison relevant assistance.

What Project Return did

In collaboration with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), we ministered at the Pekin Women's Federal Work Camp up until March 2011, when it was re-designated a men's facility and the females were moved somewhere else. Our ministry there included leading classes as well as one-on-one spiritual therapy.

Project Return of Peoria aided incarcerated mothers rehabilitate into the Peoria area by matching each returning mommy with a group of skilled and supported volunteers for one year. We additionally educated the general public concerning the barriers these females encounter as they seek to make an effective re-entry right into the neighborhood.

One of our most successful programs was our math tutor program. As we ministered in the prison, the inmates who studied in our program called us their "math tutor near me".

The Mission was shut in October 2011 because of the lack of funds.