The U.S. prison-industrial complex can be confusing, intense, and overwhelming. It’s also a complicated system with rules and norms that can trip up even those with extensive experience. To help both individuals and congregations, we created the CLF Prison Ambassador Certification Program to provide specialized training and ongoing support.
- prepares you to minister to people who are incarcerated
- potentially eases your entry into prison or jail systems
- helps make your work more sustainable
- provides a network of support for ministry enrichment and processing of secondary trauma
- gives you access to resources and ongoing learning
Who is it For?
Certification is invaluable for both individuals and members of congregational prison ministry teams who are interested in:
- visiting people who are incarcerated
- forming a prison ministry book group
- offering small group ministries to introduce or deepen spiritual practices
- leading worship services
- being matched with a local pen pal who you can also visit in prison
- starting a prison ministry or visitation program
To be certified as a Prison Ambassador through the CLF, all participants must complete the following components (in any order). Click on the titles for more information and to register.
If your congregation is interested in receiving online learning for a prison ministry team, contact us to discuss discounts for multiple participants and custom scheduling.
Small groups bring people together for mutual support and encouragement. They also provide space for processing secondary trauma, continuing education, sharing stories, and offering encouragement and resources to sustain ministries in local prisons. Prison Ambassador support circles meet online via videoconference using Zoom Cloud Meeting. They are facilitated by the CLF Prison Ministry Director, Mandy Goheen.
Once you become an Ambassador, you will be asked to register for a support circle. Your participation is required while you are actively visiting a prison or jail. You will also have at least one individual online meeting with Mandy for a time of reflection around the work of prison ministry.
Requirements for Participation:
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- You must be a member of the CLF or another UU congregation or covenanting community (for six months or more).
- You must affirm you have not been arrested, incarcerated, or on parole or probation in the prior 12 months.
- You are expected to engage in self-nurturing and spiritually supportive practices.
- If your incarceration facility requires you to complete rape prevention training (known as PREA), you must submit confirmation of this training to the CLF.
- You must complete an application and be accepted into the Prison Ambassador Certification Program.
You will be asked to provide two personal references (from a minister or religious professional as well as someone who has known you for two or more years). You will also be asked to provide short essays in response to the following three questions:
- What motivates your interest in the Worthy Now Ambassador program? How do you see yourself working in relationship with individuals who are incarcerated?
- Please share a vision of your ministry as well as any personal history or experience with the prison-industrial complex that would illuminate your sense of calling to this ministry.
- Briefly share your background in Unitarian Universalism, particularly how it informs your ministry with incarcerated persons.
It is helpful to have your essays written ahead of time so you can simply copy and paste into the application.
The application takes about 10 minutes to complete (not including the essays).