Keryx Prison Ministry

Mission Statement

     Keryx is a lay led, non-profit, non-denominational, Christian based prison ministry using the Cursillo method, designed to be conducted in any correctional institution without  substantive change in format or procedure. 

        The purpose of Keryx Prison Ministry is the Christianization of the correctional institution through the actions of small apostolic prayer support groups of  prison residents, trained and encouraged by Keryx volunteers, working within their environment.


Keryx  Definition

        Paul disdained all unworthy tactics. Instead, in 2 Cor 4:2 he states positively that he preaches "by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."  Paul preached clearly, openly, and honestly even when discouraging circumstances tempted him to get fast results. The result of his ministry was that "every man's conscience"--whether saved or unsaved--commended him for his honesty, and more importantly, so did God.
In a ministry of light, there is no room for darkness. Paul reminds us that a dark, demonic veil blinds unbelievers (v 3-4). It is penetrated only by "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Dark motives and methods cannot penetrate or disperse the darkness. That is why Paul says "we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (v 5). His preaching did not call attention to himself, like the "super apostles" who were subverting his reputation in 2 Cor. (11:5). He lifted up Jesus Christ as the One who died for sins, rose from the dead, and now reigns as Lord.

        It is significant that Paul uses the word kerysse for "preach." In the ancient world, one who proclaimed in this sense was called a keryx, or "herald." A herald was someone sent by his master to proclaim in public the master's message. He dared not change the announcement because it was not his own. His responsibility was only to proclaim it accurately. That is how Paul understood his Gospel ministry. He was merely a servant proclaiming his Master's Good News. The herald should be lost in his message. Only the Gospel of light dispels darkness and brings new life. That's how Paul was saved (v 6), and that's how we are saved.

           Great care in designing both the content and the mechanics of this ministry so that it can be done in any prison without being changed in any substantive way.  The basic requirement for ministry through Keryx is a desire to inspire and support a deep Christian commitment on the part of the resident population. 

Everything which we do is directed toward building up the Christian community of which the Chaplain of the institution is the chief pastor.  In order to understand the requirements of this ministry in its continuing operation in the institution, the Chaplain will have been required to attend a 3-Day weekend of a similar nature on the street.

           We know of no group of persons more deserving of the unique support system afforded by being a member of a prayer support group than prison chaplains.  Many administrators see chaplains as "resident-biased" while most residents see them as part of the administration. They stand in desperate need of that unique support system provided by continuing small group support which is the hallmark of Keryx.

            In some cases, chaplains have attended Keryx 3-Day weekends in another institution to learn about the weekend and how to support those who have been through it.  The only disadvantage of this approach is that in this arrangement the Chaplain misses becoming part of a support group of his or her peers outside of the prison environment.

            It is very important that the Chaplain has a visible roll on the Keryx weekend.  If the  environmental penetration plan has been followed this will be the first contact many of the participants will have with the Chaplain.


        Keryx is designed to be presented within state or federal correctional facilities.

          Entrance into any new institution is cleared with the Keryx Board of Servants prior to any agreements being made with chaplains or a staff coordinators. A staff level coordinator may be designated by the warden if the Chaplain is not of the Christian faith      

        Chaplains/staff coordinators, with the assistance of the warden, security chief, or their staff, are asked to isolate the six or eight environments within their institution [work areas, recreational areas or residential areas] which have the greatest impact on the largest percentage of the population.  They are then asked to identify the six or eight leaders from each area who have the greatest impact on attitudes of the residents either living in or passing through those environments. These are sought out as participants.

The warden and his/her staff should have the Institutional Agreement explained to them in detail.  This agreement outlines the institutional support necessary to carry on the ministry as well as what the institution can expect from Keryx volunteers.  This agreement must be signed before the ministry begins in the institution. 

            A Keryx Board of Servants representative and representatives from the local area council will advise the warden and his/her staff of the advantages and disadvantages of inviting Keryx to minister in the institution, calling attention to the additional load on security forces, and the fact that some of Keryx's most powerful team members may be ex-offenders.   Balanced against these obstacles are significant advantages. Among those advantages are the ministry as an enhancement for internal management of residents, excellent public relations for the institution through team members who will be community  leaders  and  the  advantages  resulting  from  having  such  a  stable  and mature support group for the residents and the administration.
        A tour of the institution would be appreciated by the Keryx representatives.
        The Chaplain should be provided a list of appropriate local Keryx contacts together with their names, addresses and telephone numbers, both office and residence. 

Few of these things are absolutely necessary.  They are courtesies which will reap generous harvests in the years ahead.   In Keryx, we bring into the institution the same love for staff members as we bring for residents.

   Attention to these details will greatly assist the Keryx team in the performance of their ministry.  It will also reduce any friction which could result from moving an alien group, together with their supplies, through the institution's highly structured security systems and timetables.


As soon as these details have been covered, the visit should be terminated.  If the security chief is not present at the meeting, the Chaplain should make another appointment to cover the same material with that official.  



        Keryx has been called the most effective program at changing basic attitudes of the incarcerated currently offered in prisons.  This statement is heard over and again by prison administrators where the ministry has been active long enough for its impact on the institution to have been evaluated by correctional staff. 


Keryx is a highly structured program which promotes solid Christian life-skills.  The program builds positive and loving community among inmates in an environment hostile to much community.  Keryx calls upon a spirituality which has long been dormant in many of the resident leaders within the institution. 


Keryx works from a decidedly strong Christian perspective of love for fellow man, but participants need not be Christian to attend. 


In today's world, where polarization of races, cliques, ethnic and political groups has become so pervasive in our environments, the Keryx program has proven to be an effective instrument for breaking down mistrust and animosity. 


The warden or superintendent of the institution, together with the chaplain, must have signed an Institutional Agreement with the Keryx District Committee before plans can begin for a Short Course in an institution.  The terms of this agreement obligate Keryx to the performance of stated acts as fully as it commits the institution to permitting those programs to be performed as stated.  Four to six months lead time is normal between signing of the agreement and date of the first introductory weekend.

        Keryx acknowledges that the primary obligation of all employees of a department of corrections is the security of residents of the institution.  That consideration is foremost in their minds as they make any decision regarding residents.  All Keryx team members understand and support that fact. Otherwise, they would be less than effective members of a team in this ministry.  

        All team members are, of course, committed to faithful adherence to this and other team manuals.  It is a commitment made by the district board both for the reassurance of the administration and to protect the ministry from program erosion.


         When a Keryx district is planning to launch the ministry in an institution, arrangements are made to discuss the ministry with the warden, chaplain and any others the warden deems necessary.

All subsequent appointments with the institution will be arranged through the Chaplain.  The Chaplain is the link with the institution and it is through the Chaplain that Keryx works. 

          In a few institutions which do not maintain chaplains on staff, Keryx works through the programs director or a responsible party designated by the warden.  Whatever the case, proper reference to the chain of command is of significant importance. 

The director of Keryx, or someone from the Keryx Board of Servants  will normally come to the area for this initial meeting.  He/she will accompany the chairman, the Keryx coordinator and the Chaplain to the meeting and will be the primary spokesman for Keryx Prison Ministry. 

         The primary purpose of the Board of Servants participation is two-fold: to relieve the institution's administrative leaders of any apprehensions which they might have about the program and to explain the necessity for the unique support systems required by the nature of the ministry. 



        Keryx goes beyond mere introduction to religion.  Keryx is a program which carefully structures various activities which:

1.     Introduce the resident to the joy of Christian community through the introductory 3-day weekend.

         2.     Give the resident a sense of his or her responsibility for positive relationships and influence in the institution,
                and insert each resident into a  peer prayer support group.

3.    Use the attraction of free-world visitors to bring the resident to monthly accountability at monthly reunions of Keryx  community.



        Each Keryx volunteer is first screened for spiritual maturity.  Not every interested party is eligible to serve on a Keryx team.  Each has extensive experience in small group work, is active in a mainline church and recommended by the pastor of that church. 

 After this initial screening, each volunteer must commit to 8 team meetings, over a two month period, in preparation for the ministry.  They commit themselves to the three day weekend itself, which actually takes 4 days of their time, and they commit themselves to come back monthly for a minimum 6 months.  

          Many Keryx volunteers become volunteer chaplain's assistants where this is desired by the institutional authorities.



           In order for Keryx to work positively for the institution, the institution must:  

       1.      Make space available for the program.  Keryx activities have been held in chapels, gymnasiums, classrooms,               visiting rooms, tents with adjacent port-a-potties, and even the laundry.

2.      Make the residents available.  Since the introductory weekend is a total immersion experience, the residents must be excused from all other duties.  They do not have visits during the weekend, nor leave for any other activity.  Of course, the resident may leave at any time for any purpose, but they cannot come back into the program that particular weekend once they have left. 

3.    Help identify those inmates within the institution who are influential among their peers to invite them to the weekend.  Many of these inmates will be negative leaders.  These hard-core convicts are the very ones Keryx wants to help with a change of heart.  If they can experience a change of heart, the entire environment of the institution can be influenced.