The chapel was opened for prisoners to view the Queen's Funeral together.
On the day of the Queen's funeral, we opened the chapel at HMP Buckley Hall for prisoners to come and view the proceedings on the big TV screen if they wanted to. Most prisoners expressed the desire to view it privately in their cells but nine of them came to the chapel viewing.
The majority of those who turned up were ex-servicemen and it was a really moving experience to see the way they conducted themselves. They all watched and listened in silence giving the whole thing their undivided attention.
We chaplains, the prison governor and three prison officers sat at the back while the nine prisoners occupied the front row. Then at the end of the funeral service, when the National Anthem was struck up all of the nine immediately stood to attention. Naturally, those of us behind all followed their example!
These guys may be in prison for one reason or another but they still retained a great deal of their personal pride and dignity and it was heart-warming to see their obvious devotion to the Sovereign whom they had previously served.
I have had many such insights into the lives of prisoners since I have been engaged in this work as prison chaplain and I am constantly being challenged to lay aside any preconceived ideas I may have had about offenders. Obviously, there are some who have a really bad attitude towards authority and society in general, but I have to say that that was not the case regarding the group who came to chapel that day.
Such experiences serve to underline to me that I am right where God wants me to be in this role and the Lord often reminds me that I am not to look at a man's past and why he has ended up in prison, but rather He wants me to deal with the person in front of me here and now. He simply wants me to see an individual in need of Jesus, and as we share with them, many prisoners respond to the gospel message and to the love of Christ.
Incarnation | Compassion | Proclamation
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