We have a passion for those discarded by the world, who, at first glance, seem less than credible or salvageable. We heed the biblical injunction: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb. 13.2, ESV). We believe our TUMI prison sites represent the new beachheads of Kingdom advance to reach America’s urban poor.
We are excited how God has opened doors for us to equip men and women in prison to be servant leaders for Christ. We have listed here important information and resources for those of you who are interested in starting sites in prisons, are currently training prison students, or want to receive transfer students when they are released from prison.
Prison Fellowship and World Impact Partnership Equips Prisoners to Help Transform Inner Cities after Incarceration Open or Close
LOS ANGELES, March 20, 2012—Every year California state prisons release thousands of prisoners, most of whom return to the state’s inner cities, where poverty and crime walk hand in hand. Today, Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, and World Impact, a Christian missions organization committed to serving the urban poor, announced the expansion of their leadership training program for prisoners.
The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) program operates seven classes in five California prisons and involves 218 state prisoners. Under an agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the privately funded, voluntary program, which prepares prisoners to be spiritual leaders who help transform the urban areas to which they will return, will expand to 32 classes in prisons across the state over the next 24 months. This expansion will bring the four-year, 16-course TUMI program and its seminary-level training curriculum to an additional 960 inmates.
“The culture inside prison can tend to be violent,” said Domingo Uribe, warden of Centinela State Prison. “I have more than 40 inmates in The Urban Ministry Institute who are learning to become leaders and as a result have remained disciplinary free for a year and a half. The attitude change and new life direction these inmates have received from TUMI are helping to change the culture within the prison yard. I know there are populations in every prison facility that would benefit from this program.”
Prison Fellowship and World Impact began their collaboration in California prisons in 2006 and have since established the TUMI program in two prisons in Florida and one in Michigan. Ten California prisoners have graduated from TUMI and have successfully reintegrated into urban communities—some serving as pastors or other church leaders.
The Urban Ministry Institute has been heralded by prison officials and inner-city pastors for the positive impact it has had both inside prison walls and in urban communities.
“For more than a decade TUMI has trained urban pastors for effective ministry,” said Bishop George McKinney, Pastor of St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ of San Diego. “I am excited to be part of multiplying this exciting work in the prisons, believing that God will transform thousands of prisoners into pastors. I will welcome them back into the city as co-laborers.”
“I have seen the effectiveness of TUMI over the past 15 years,” said Dr. Jack Hayford, founder and president of The King’s University in Van Nuys and a World Impact board member. “I’ve witnessed former thieves and drug dealers go through this program and become totally different people, completely turning their lives around. I fully expect when TUMI graduates leave prison they will become contributing members of their communities—and our communities will be safer for it.”
Because World Impact offers satellite programs outside of prisons, program participants who are released from incarceration prior to graduation can complete their coursework outside prison walls.
“Prison Fellowship has demonstrated expertise in preparing inmates to become hard-working members of their communities and families,” said Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske. “It makes sense that we would partner with World Impact, which has a proven curriculum that equips leaders to serve America’s inner cities.”
TUMI Graduations: Correction Institute Commencement Celebrations Open or Close
On Sunday, December 11, 2011 our first Prison Fellowship graduation was held in CRC Norco. More than 300 inmates came to the service to celebrate and honor the 7 students for the completion of their work!
Then, in January 2013 our next in prison graduation was hosted at Centinela State Prison Biblical Leadership Institute – Yard D, with 8 students graduating.
In April 2013, our largest graduation for any TUMI satellite was held at South Bay Correction Institution – South Bay, Florida. Thirty-four students graduated and celebrated their hard work and accomplishment with family and friends.
In May 2013, CRC Norco hosted its second graduation commencement!
There have been many in prison graduations since those early prison beginnings, and many men and women have been equipped for the work of ministry--inside and outside those walls. We praise God for these fellow laborers in Kingdom work! To God be the glory!
From Prisoners to Pastors Open or Close
On October 13, 2011, PF and World Impact hosted an event at the Reagan Library seeking to expand our prison satellites nationally. This event, “From Prisoners to Pastors,” told the story of Prison Fellowship’s partnership with World Impact through TUMI, and featured Dr. Keith Phillips, then president of World Impact, Jim Liske, then CEO of PF, and Jack Hayford who delivered an appeal to help us provide seminary-level education behind prison walls and to equip prisoners to become pastors and church leaders, both on the “inside” for lifers, as well as for those who return to their urban communities.
Time Magazine (online) also featured a story about what was happening in the prisons in California.
TUMI Training in Prisons Open or Close
Over the years we have discovered that TUMI sites in prisons require a specialized understanding of prison culture. Further, because the word travels quickly within the world of prison officials (wardens, chaplains, departments of corrections), it is especially important that no TUMI class begins in a prison without proper screening to ensure the quality of the TUMI program. In other words, one negative report about a TUMI program in a prison could affect the credibility of TUMI in all prisons nationally.
For this reason, we require a separate application and acceptance process before anyone can start a TUMI class in a state or federal prison. Even those TUMI sites that have already received authority to conduct TUMI classes outside prisons must apply for permission to launch a TUMI class inside a prison. Without expressed written authority to start a class in prison, no student-inmate will receive credit toward a certificate.
Examples of TUMI Prison Ministry Open or Close
Prison Fellowship Ministries has utilized two models for their TUMI programs. In Florida, access has been given to students to make TUMI their “job,” giving them the ability to work on TUMI five days a week. In other locations, time/space issues have made it possible to offer classes only one day per week. This table summarizes the alternatives in each situation. These examples may be useful in adapting other scenarios in prisons.
Program Element Once/week, four-years Five days/week, two years Capstone Curriculum Nine weeks per module for four modules, then a break for PFM pre-release curriculum Two Capstone courses taught over 10 weeks, then a break for other PF courses Pre-release curriculum After 36 weeks of Capstone sessions, four weeks of pre-release curriculum is taught None Other courses (e.g. Prison Fellowship standardized list of curriculum) None After 10 weeks of Capstone, a four-week PF course is offered on seven (7) occasions Worship Service Praxis (click here for details) None Using TUMI’s Annual, students prepare and conduct weekly worship service to earns six (6) additional TUMI credit hours in Christian Ministry Assumed class size 30 50 (could be 25-50, but 50 assumed here) Estimated cost per student through graduation (does not include staffing) $1,612 $1,255 Classroom hours per week 3 21
Please direct any questions to our Incarceration Ministries Specialist, Cathy Allsman.
Application, Prison Fellowship, and "Lessons Learned" Open or Close
To apply for permission to start TUMI in a prison, please submit this supplemental application. This is in addition to submitting the full TUMI Satellite Application as described under, "How to Start a Satellite."
A large number of our TUMI satellites in prison are run by Prison Fellowship. Because Prison Fellowship may already be approaching a particular prison regarding TUMI, we will contact Prison Fellowship every time we receive an inquiry to start TUMI in a state or federal prison to ensure that only one group at a time is approaching that particular prison. TUMI makes the final determination regarding the starting of any classes or new satellites in prison.
All TUMI prison sites must be operated consistent with your prison ministry’s culture, vision, and operating procedures while adhering to the requirements of The Urban Ministry Institute. It is the task of your prison ministry to find and release leaders, while it is TUMI’s job to resource your prison ministry to carry out this work (we like to say “you can do it, we can help”). This document "Lessons Learned", will help you lead your site in this endeavor, equipping God called men and women for the work of ministry in the prison He has led you to.
Receiving Ex-Inmates as Transfer Students
TUMI in County Jails
We do not require a separate application if you want to extend your TUMI site into your county jail system. Your status as an active TUMI site gives you freedom to launch classes among county jail inmates. Because most jail inmates are incarcerated for a short period of time, you should be prepared to receive them in your classes outside the jail, upon their release. You may also want to consider using our Fight the Good Fight of Faith curriculum in the jail setting since this takes a shorter period of time to complete.
Student Grants Available in California Open or Close
Also, along with the grant we received to expand with Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) in California, we now have funding to help with the cost of training former California TUMI students who are released before they graduate. Any TUMI site that receives a formerly incarcerated California TUMI student may request funding for the cost of training that student as determined by Serving California. For further information contact Serving California at www.servingcalifornia.org.