Disciple Bible studies expands to prisons in Arkansas and Texas
Disciple Bible studies are now being taught in prisons in seven states; that list now includes Arkansas and Texas.
The effort to teach Disciple in state prisons was begun in 1998 by Mark Hicks, a clergy member of the North Carolina Annual Conference. In 2010, he was elected president of Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries National.
Bible studies in North Carolina prisons were followed by similar ministries in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Illinois.
In 2015, the Arkansas Annual Conference officially recognized the ministry led by Steve Smith.
Following visits to chaplains of several Arkansas prisons, seven chaplains stepped forward to request Bible studies in their prisons.
“This was wonderful news,” said Hicks. “Steve Smith has already begun placing volunteers in Arkansas state prison sites.” Hicks says former Arkansas bishop and the originator of Disciple Bible study the Rev. Richard Wilke was a key player in getting the Arkansas engaged.
The Rev. Scott Moore, a clergy member of the Texas Annual Conference, has convened a steering committee composed of members from the five annual conferences in the state.
Texas Department of Correction staff has identified prison that will welcome the Bible study, and volunteers are being recruited and trained.
Following steering committee meetings in Houston, the group will present formal proposals to June 206 sessions of the five annual conferences.
“Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, helped bring the five conferences into this new venture,” said Hicks. “The cooperation across conference lines is a celebration of our UM Connection.”
The national office has developed online training and certification modules for annual conferences in the seven states. “This will ensure that all volunteers are trained and certified prior to in-prison service and will make our training and certification process much easier and more accessible,” said Hicks. “Training will be hosted by the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute of Discipleship at Southwestern College in Winfield Kan.”
Hicks says he hopes additional annual conferences will want to introduce the prison ministry in their states. For information, please contact Hicks at MCHicks@northstate.net or visit the website: www.disciplebibleoutreach.org.