Faith-Based Ex-Offender Celebration Highlights Redeemed Lives
On October 20, Restorative Justice advocates will celebrate with former prisoners pursuing a better life and a second chance.
Huntsville’s Texas Prison Museum will be the backdrop to a special day of testimony, music and second chances at the Breathing Free: Engaging in Ministry celebration from 10am-3pm. Featured speakers include Pastor Marvin Hood, the founding pastor of Newgate Fellowship UMC whose passion for justice, healing and recovery for the broken is evidenced by his tireless efforts to carry the gospel message of redemption, forgiveness and hope into prisons and jails locally as well as nationally. As a very young man, Marvin was sentenced to 99 years in prison for a very short “joy ride.” While incarcerated at the Eastham Unit, he met Chaplain Emmett Solomon. Later he met men of God from the United Methodist Church who mentored him while in prison and stood with him upon release.
A second speaker, Paul Owens was raised in a Christian home but did not come to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior until he was an adult confined in a prison. In that prison cell, he came to understand that he needed to know God for himself. In February of this year, he became a co-laborer with God and the brothers and sisters of the Welcome Back to Tarrant County Ministries. To give back to the community, he shares his testimony weekly with newly released individuals at the Parole Office.
Speaker Rose M. Montelongo has accomplished many of her goals of ministering to those impacted by the criminal justice system since her release from prison. She works in close collaboration with Calvary Commission, Restorative Justice Ministries, and the Salvation Army. She is certified in anger management and currently on staff at First Assembly of God in McAllen, TX where she is involved in the L.O.O.P.S. and Celebrate Recovery groups. She is also a Chaplain’s Assistant and instructor at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where she serves as facilitator of the faith-based dorms at the Lopez-Segovia Complex.
“Our God is a God of second chances,” says Diane McGehee, TAC Missional Excellence Director. “There’s a huge prison population in Texas, creating a great need for volunteers to help people recreate their lives once they get out of prison. This event will show us how our churches can faithfully walk with ex-offenders as well as families in all steps of the process.”
Restorative Justice Coordinator Mark Pickett welcomes volunteers for a variety of tasks and welcomes participants to join the Friday Night Fellowship at First UMC Huntsville from 7pm-9pm where several ex-offenders will share their stories of entering the ministry. “Churches with restorative justice ministries can register to bring exhibit information that gives a condensed view of their ministries,” adds Mark. “Because of the important role that faith has played in their personal lives, many former convicts have a strong desire to be involved in restorative justice ministry. So this program will be of great encouragement in this area.”