This past fall, 24 residents at CoreCivic's Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, Tennessee, participated in a special experience through their faith of choice, Christianity, and pursued baptism. Having come out of a two-year hiatus on baptisms due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety protocols that were in place to protect the health of staff and incarcerated individuals, Trousdale's religious programming department was excited that baptisms were available to interested staff and inmates once again.
During the pandemic, however, chaplains at Trousdale did not pause religious programming itself, but used Zoom to facilitate small groups for inmates with faith-based non-profits like Men of Valor and other religious organizations. During the pandemic, residents could meet in their respective housing units to study the Bible together. Much of this time dedicated to learning about the Bible is what prompted baptism for those residents who chose Christianity as their faith, as reported by Johnny Beaver, a chaplain at Trousdale.
Before these recent baptisms, the Trousdale worship team led residents and guests in music. Both chaplains who serve on staff at Trousdale, Beaver and Quinton Fletcher, shared a word of encouragement to the men to live out publicly what they were professing through the baptism.
"It was so awesome seeing these men take that walk down the hallway [to the baptistery]. The men cheering them on had seen all the changes that had come into their lives. It was a great night," said Kevin, a resident at Trousdale who serves as a volunteer chaplain aide.
Chaplain Fletcher ended the time of worship encouraging the men who were not ready for the step of baptism and invited them to attend religious services, participate in activities hosted by the facility's faith-based volunteer groups, and seek opportunities to better themselves.
CoreCivic strives to help individuals maintain meaningful connections to the faith of their choice by providing religious services, resources, and opportunities, such as baptisms. Chaplains rely on a robust network of volunteers and religious resource groups to ensure a variety of faiths are accommodated for those in our care. This allows individuals to continue growing in their faith as they prepare for their next step in life with hope and purpose.