The following is an introduction to Kairos Prison Ministry by The Rev. Canon William Barnwell. We will publish a series of interviews Barnwell conducted with prisoners about Kairos as part of our Christianity at Work project.


One out of every one hundred American adults is living in a prison—2.2 million altogether—the most per capita of any country in the world. The national average is 502 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.” Many of these men and women will spend much or all of their lives in prison. Stories abound—especially on television—of their violent lives inside as well as outside of prison.

The primary purpose of this series is to let some prisoners who are sentenced to be incarcerated for life tell their stories and, at the same time, let some of the determined volunteers who work with Kairos, an amazing national prison ministry, tell their stories. I begin with explaining something about Karios.

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In our vision statement we write:

The Christian faith is at a crossroads. It needs greater impact in modern life — and yet there is not enough expansive, creative or progressive thinking about how to do that. At the Threshold is a new organization dedicated to fostering this transformation.

We know the church needs to “transform.” Here are a few ways we suggest it should change:

  • become a truly global church by using information technology
  • put justice and peace back in the heart of our work (we are collecting links to progressive peace and justice organizations)
  • rediscover the egalitarian and communal early church, as opposed to what is prominent today – top-down, individualistic, and often fundamentalist
  • explore new ways of worshiping (among other things, our Effective Ministry section will highlight experiments in liturgy)
  • include all baptized people in the full life and ministry of the church, overcoming the marginalization of women, LGBT persons, and children

How do you think the church should change?