Information for Enrolled Students


What is PREP?

PREP is a theological educational program that creates opportunities for a joint theological learning environment between theological students and students within State correctional facilities.  Based in several models of prison educational programming across the country, PREP forges new partnerships between places of theological learning, organizations with educational programs in the prisons, and correctional institutions.  PREP uses contextual education and tenets of practical theology as it offers Drew’s theological students, faculty, and practicing ministers a chance to connect with the outside world through meaningful pedagogical methods.  Through combined classrooms, a diverse student body can interact and engage with one another in meaningful academic discourse.

PREP’s Background:

PREP is the application of a model that was initiated in Nashville, TN in 2002.  Harmon Wray, a restorative justice author/trainer; Dr. Richard Goode, a Lipscomb University history professor; and Rev. Janet Wolf, an ordained United Methodist pastor and professor at American Baptist College, have been inviting students from seminaries, colleges, and congregations to come with them inside prisons to enlarge their definitions of theological education by learning theology with and from those who are incarcerated in Nashville, TN.  For six years, students from Vanderbilt Divinity School have come into the prison to join students from Riverbend Maximum Security Institute for seminary courses.

Prison Context:

A Study from Pew was recently published that stated 1 in every 100 persons in the USA is incarcerated. Churches must be on the front-line of this issue with leadership that is informed and theologically grounded.  People in prison are neither affecting nor comprised of a fringe-population—a church in any community in the US will face issues around our burgeoning prison population.  NJDOC has agreed to pilot PREP in Edna Mahan Women’s Correctional Facility and Northern State Prison.

Types of Courses:

To date, Drew’s faculty members from the divisions of Biblical Studies, Church History, Theology and Philosophy, Church and Society, and Pastoral Theology have indicated interest and/or completed training to teach these combined class courses at the prisons.  The courses include:

  • Biblical Literature 2: Gospels, Epistles, Apocalypse
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God: Women’s Expressions of Religion, Gender, and Race in Works of Fiction
  • Search for the Good Community
  • Letters and Sermons from Prison
  • Western Christian Ethics—Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Social Gospel
  • Biblical Studies- Mary Magdalene
  • Theology of Redemption

Testimonials:

“What I am realizing is that our time together this past fall has been one of the best experiences of my life.”- Dr. Graybeal in a letter to all the Drew students

“This class has helped to restore my faith in people” – Inside Student

“I learned that women who made mistakes in life were intellectually sound and had a certain love for academic stimulus.” – Outside student

“I was allowed the opportunity to fellowship with my sisters as if I were just another sister, not an inmate.” – Inside Student

“We no longer need to search for the good community; like God’s basileia it is already among us.” – Outside Student

“So many people do not see inside of me because I hide, yet within our Good Community, I did not feel I had to.  It may not seem like such a big deal to you, but to me it is very important, and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to come into my house and see me and my fellow sisters.” – Inside Student

“I can honestly say that my life will never be the same after our time at Edna Mahan.” – Outside student

…I believe my search for the good community has led me to a place within myself…Look for me, Dave, in the Spring Semester of 2010!”  – Inside Student

“In my ministry I hope to offer love and care to those who have been incarcerated both while they are in prison and once they leave.  The faces of the women will forever be engrained in my mind and who they are will always be written on my heart.” – Outside student

For more information, please contact:

PREP Co-Coordinators:

Arminta Fox, afox1@drew.edu
Charon Hribar, charonatdrew@gmail.com

973-408-3056