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  • Lane Brubaker

Called by Name

Isaiah 43: Do Not Fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine.


It is the culture in the Department of Corrections to call everyone by their last name. This includes the individuals who are incarcerated and the people who work for the Department of Corrections. I attended a six week Department of Corrections Academy and when I graduated I still only knew people's last names. There was only a handful of people that I knew their first names and that is only because I had become friends with them outside of the classroom. This culture of calling people by their last names is informed by the two pillars of Corrections- Safety and Security. It is important to not become to familiar with anyone making sure that you are always aware of the fact that you are in a prison. If you are too comfortable than you are opening yourself up to possible dangerous situations. I have reflected a lot on the Safety and Security mindset and there is some aspects I am thankful for and some that I am not. There will certainly be more blogs in the future on these reflections.


Being known by my last name and calling others by their last name is something I've never been very good at. In fact I'm known at the WCCW as Chaplain Lane- I'm benefiting from having a first name that sounds like a last name. But I have also been consistent in making myself known as Lane. For me to be known as anything else would leave me feeling inauthentic and distant. Even as a child I didn't refer to adults as Mrs or Mr Last name- I always called adults by their first names. I think that this inclination came from a place inside me that says people are people and I even though I might be younger than you I don't have pretend that I'm not equal to you. And at the WCCW even though you are incarcerated doesn't mean that we are not equals. I'm not sure I can be the pastor to someone when I'm intentionally distancing myself from them because I'm scared of them. For me referring to people by the name they feel most known is important and symbolic. It is symbolic of how one is known by God.

At Hagar's Community Church I have consistently welcomed the women to know each other by their first names. Last week I made name tags for everyone attending worship. I made the name tags to aid in breaking in to small groups, but I also named everyone by their first names. As the women were coming in to the chapel I was standing in the back talking to one woman who was starring at the name tags. "Everything okay?" I asked because she looked confused. She told me she was looking for her friend, but didn't know her first name. We both laughed and she began thinking out loud reflecting on how she doesn't know anyone's first names. I asked her if she would prefer for Hagar's Community Church to use last names? and she said an emphatic No! she loves being called by her name but it is a new experience for her at the WCCW.


I also noticed a shift in myself while interacting with the women with their name tags on. Some of the women at the WCCW have a reputation- they are known campus wide for a variety of things- most not very flattering- but I noticed that when calling these women by their given name I had a refreshed sense of who they were. I was able to be more personable and less cautious. I was able to see our similarities and not our differences.


Isaiah 43: Do Not Fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine.



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