ROSHARON, Texas - It may be a tall order, but some Texas inmates can now officially call themselves ministers after successfully completing an intense four-year bible seminary behind bars.
"We welcome our freshmen class to be part of what God is doing— raising men up to serve and to use God's word to change the culture and to reach men throughout TDCJ," Program Associate Dean Director Benjamin B. Phillips announced. "Gentlemen, today you are officially Southwesterners!"
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary held its fall convocation ceremony Monday at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Darrington Unit near Rosharon.
With bibles firmly in hand, the inmates marched into the prison chapel like an army of Christian soldiers.
Hymns were sung and praises were heaped upon the program focusing on reshaping the destinies of maximum-security Texas inmates.
As one program official put it, "We've never needed more prayer than we do now."
The captive audience especially paid close attention to the leaders discussing the funding and support for the program, which seeks to morally rehabilitate even the most hardened criminals.
"You are blazing a trail, if you will, in this system," State District Rep. Ed Thompson said. "And it's important that this project work and that it go forward. "
As a scriptural verse in Matthew declares, "The greatest among you shall be your servant."
Perhaps time will tell if these prisoners have truly turned over a new leaf and are ready to serve after paying their debt to society.