In Prison

I’m tempted by the story of Steve McClaren. I have no interest in football but, after a lifetime around churches, I know the smell of death and decline when I meet it. And the FA Board are right there. Thank goodness for £2m pay-off’s I say. I’ll come back to it because I am fascinated by the way in which the mindset of decline – like sectarianism in Ireland – gets a grip without people realising that it has happened. And it is difficult to turn around.  An imprisonment.

Prisons Week this week and I preached at the local service in Perth .. which happens to have a prison with more than 600 in it. I doubt if I could cope with Prison Chaplaincy but all the issues are there.


  1. Poor Steve indeed – apart from the £2m, that is. Or are we only discussing ‘treasure in heaven’

    As for Adrienne’s interesting question about prisoners, I found the following on the HM Prisons website:
    The last ten years or so have seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of women in prison from an average of 1560 in 1993 to around 4248 in January 2006. An all time high of 4672 was reached in May 2004. Despite this rise in numbers, Women in prison represent a very small amount of the total prison population at about 5.6% of a total of 75,030 in England and Wales.

    The relative numbers don’t surprise me – but the dramatic rise in the number of female prisoners does.

    As for the ‘outsiders’ issue … Well. Two answers. One is that Jesus was into outsiders in a big way – publicans, sinners, lepers, adulterous woman… The other is that I learnt in the sectarian world of Northern Ireland that when a church allows itself to become a marker of identity for a community, cultural, political, etc., it dies, hollowed out from the inside. Rejecting outsiders and sticking with ‘people like us’ is pretty much the same in my book.

  2. David, I think your sermon spoke only of male prisoners. Not knowing any statistics whatsoever, I can’t help wondering whether, from a numerical point of view, men far outweigh women in prisons. Given that God has historically been assumed to be male, and that Jesus was a ‘good’ man, what has gone wrong with the male species through the centuries?

    In response to Anne’s comment above, can’t help thinking that it may be difficult to keep our Episcopalian identity if we have an influx of ‘Outsiders’. There is the question too as to whether our church (in the general sense) will be weakened rather than strengthened in the long term.

  3. I notice in the recently published Diocese of St Andrew’s ‘Sources of Growth: Good Practice diagram’ that there is a category named “Outsiders: offer services to those turned away elsewhere”. Seems relevant to poor Steve.

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