The Rev. Dr. Lynn Bujnak, was invited by Jeanne Zammataro of the Vermont Conference UCC Prison Justice Committee to lead worship and celebrate communion at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. She stated, "While I have from time to time visited parishioners in prison, I have never led worship in this setting.
"Getting in to the prison requires a quick background check prior to visiting and then signing in and going through a metal detector. It's not difficult and the guards are courteous and respectful. Once in the meeting space, we set the table and got bulletins ready. I immediately thought of the words we say at so many of our churches: No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here. If ever there was a population that needed this particular Good News, they're here! The announcement echoed through the loudspeaker and soon the men began gathering. Each one took the time to come forward, shake our hands and make introduction. An atmosphere of anticipation soon spread.
"Through heart-felt hymns, sharing the Word, and prayer requests (thanksgiving for a clean drug test, worry about not being able to reach family and feeling isolated, concern for children, anxiety about an upcoming sentencing hearing) Christ's presence became very real.
"Then, we broke the bread and shared the cup. As each man came forward I saw the reflection of what we all bring to this table: longing and hope, hunger and yearning for a touch of the Holy. All of us were fed."