Photo: The Rev. Mark Hicks, president of Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries, a North Carolina based ministry operating in seven states.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Representatives from North Carolina-based Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries (DBOM) discussed the merits of the Bible study with officials of the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Hicks, a North Carolina pastor and president of the national DBOM, and Charles Gilliland, president of the Tennessee chapter of DBOM, met Oct. 10 with the Rev. Dr. Ron Turner, director of religious services for the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and Bill Gulptons, assistant commissioner of rehabilitative services. “Turner and Gupton were very supportive,” said Hicks.
Gupton stated that these types of programs are a great benefit to the inmates, especially since they can help inmates reintegrate into society following release. “Both Ron and Bill were impressed with the quality of the DISCIPLE Bible Study curriculum and sound Bible teaching which is a hallmark of the study,” said Hicks.
Gilliland spoke of the change that he experienced as a participate in the DISCIPLE study: "In my opinion it is the best program ever offered by the United Methodist Church.”
The study has already been introduced in some Tennessee prisons.
Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn., has taught courses in Riverbend Correctional Facility in Nashville for the past 10 years. That church also conducts Sunday services; 75 church members have pen pals in the maximum security prison, and church members provide jobs, transportation and housing for men after their release.
Hicks told the prison officials that all coordinators of the Bible study are trained by DBOM.
Some 30 Tennessee volunteers are presently trained as DBOM leaders and are waiting for placement. Gilliland and Turner agreed to work together to discover additional pilot locations for additional classes.
“The quality of the program we offer is very important to us,” said Hicks. “In addition, the full approval and corporation of the Department of Corrections is very important." Hicks sees that program as a win-win for the prison participants, local church volunteers, the United Methodist Church, DBOM national and the Tennessee chapter of DBOM.