One of the most challenging things about being a church located inside a prison is explaining how the mechanics of our organization actually work. There is a whole universe of shared terminology and frameworks in the "church world" and another completely different set of terminology and frameworks in the world of incarceration, and we sit on the margins of each of those spaces. We are a church, but we're not organized or structured like other churches. We do work inside an incarceration setting, following all the policies and procedures of the WCCW, but we're not employees of the Department of Corrections. So how does it all work??
The organizational structure of our church is located outside the prison, including our leadership board (we call it a "Guide Team"), our sponsoring organization (The Olympia Presbytery), our finances (we are financially supported through donors and grants), and our partner ministries (other non-profits working on prevention, diversion, and re-entry). From a purely financial and organizational perspective, we are an outside organization, operating beyond (rather than within) the walls of WCCW.
But from a spiritual perspective, we are inside. Our love is inside. Our siblings are inside. Our care is inside. Our solidarity is inside. In a spiritual sense, without the beloved souls who live inside WCCW our ministry doesn't exist. This is why you often hear folks associated with Hagar's describe our ministry as a church inside a prison. It has nothing to do with who sets the budget, who maintains our non-profit status, or who supervises staff. It has everything to do with how the family of God is knit together, crossing all boundaries of race, culture, language, time, space, and even prison walls, to be joined together in Christ.
When you give to Hagar's, your contribution is received by the Olympia Presbytery and deposited in an account with a financial institution. It supports our budget and helps us to keep showing up for the ones we love. The money doesn't physically travel inside the prison, but the love does. Love is the beating heart of this church: we exist to create a space where our siblings in Christ inside WCCW can feel and know their belovedness in God's eyes, and in ours. To each one of you who has made it possible for us to do this work: Thank you. To learn more about how to become a supporter of Hagar's Community Church, click here.