The following is the fourth installment of a four-part series of Interviews of Prisoners and Prison Ministers by the Rev. Canon William H. Barnwell of Kairos Prison Ministry. We published the series of interviews Barnwell conducted with prisoners about Kairos as part of our Christianity at Work project. The first article in this series can be found here.

The Man Who Learned to Hope and to Give Hope: Ashanti Witherspoon

“But, God, if you don’t want me out of prison, so be it. I will continue to serve you till the end.”

December 3, 2011, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHB: I am talking with Ashanti Witherspoon, who spent many years in prison at Angola before he was finally released and became active as a Kairos outside volunteer. He was featured in an award winning documentary, The Farm, about Angola when he was a resident there. Read More…

The following is part of a series of Interviews of Prisoners and Prison Ministers by William Barnwell. The first article in this series can be found here.

“We’re called to find in everyone that innocent child we were created to be and to speak

 to that child.”

February 18, 2012


WHB: Deacon Cindy Obier and I are having a conversation here at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. A deacon is one of the clergy orders in the Episcopal Church: there are bishops, priests, and deacons. Like the first seven deacons in Acts 6, deacons have a special role of serving those outside of the church as well as those inside.

Talk some, Cindy, about your growing-up years and how your dad was so influential in your life. Tell us about your Kairos experience at the women’s prison at St. Gabriel’s and your experience with the DOCC ministries at Angola Penitentiary these past ten years. [DOCC stands for the Episcopal program called Disciples of Christ in Community. It is a national program that helps individual parishes build what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”] And talk about your ministry on Death Row. Read More…

by Donald Schell

If I’ve framed this question as I mean to, it will probably sound nonsensical to two quite different groups –

            – One group includes post-Christian atheists, agnostics, apathetics, and “spiritual but not-religious” people, many of them my friends.  To them, the question will sound nonsensical coming from me, a priest of forty years, now an itinerant teacher and workshop leader, but still going to church every Sunday and happily covering as a supply priest in a variety of church settings as I’m invited.  They might tell me that they don’t have a clue what church is for, but don’t expect me to be asking the question, though maybe not.  Maybe knowing I don’t mean to provide an abstract doctrinal answer would make the question interesting to them.  Maybe it would get them wondering how church compared with other purposeful organizations and gatherings.  I hope so. Read More…

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.

Read More…