Prisoners Week began in England and Wales in 1975 to provide an annual focus and reason for Christians to work together to make a difference for people who are in Prison. It became Prison Week in 1995. Today, the primary aim of Prisons Week is to pray for and raise awareness of the needs of prisoners and their families, victims of offenders and prison staff.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has ministered in prisons to prisoners and staff in a number of locations and facilities across Ireland for many years and currently has both full and part-time Chaplains serving in Magilligan, Maghaberry, the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, and Hydebank Wood. Presbyterian Ministers also visit in prisons in the Irish Republic.
During his visit, Dr. McNie met with both prison staff and prisoners and had an opportunity to visit the Braille centre which produces resources for blind people. Dr. McNie had personally taken copies of Braille Bible materials produced in the centre to Malawi on a previous mission visit.
Accompanied by Prison Chaplain Rev. Rodney Cameron and Rev. David Bruce, the Secretary to PCI’s Council for Mission in Ireland, Dr. McNie said, “It was a privilege to visit Maghaberry Prison, and to see at first hand the important work being done by a large team of dedicated staff working in often challenging circumstances. The prisoners I met, and the work I witnessed confirmed to me that the grace of God is offered to all, without exception, and that Christ has the power to transform the lives of all who seek Him. Our chaplains work selflessly to bring the love of Christ to prisoners and their families, and to the community of staff and officers. They are to be commended for their important work, which we hope and pray may be secured into the future.”
Next year’s Prisons Week will be from 9-15 October 2016.
Visiting Maghaberry Prison during Prisons Week (from left to right): Nehru Dass, Rev. Rodney Cameron,
Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, Rev. Leslie Patterson and Rev. David Bruce.