Kairos Inside @ Avery Mitchell
About Kairos @ Avery Mitchell
In 2011, David and Alice Houser and Neil Brown attended a Blue Ridge Walk to Emmaus Gathering in Asheville, NC. While there, John Klees stood and announced that Marion Correctional Institutional Kairos #3 date was close and was lacking a full team compliment. He asked for a few last minute volunteers to fill out the team. David, Alice and Neil raised their hands and volunteered.
David served as a team servant while Alice worked in the cookie room. Neil served as a runner.
Meanwhile, David and Alice had been hosting the weekly Yokefellow listening sessions each Tuesday evening at AMCI. David approached Neil about meeting with the chaplain to discuss bringing Kairos to AMCI. A meeting was soon arranged and the chaplain readily agreed to allowing Kairos to begin monthly reunion meetings with those inmates who had previously attended a Kairos weekend at other penal institutions.
The first Kairos reunion meeting was held in October, 2011 with nearly 40 participants with the eventual goal of holding a full Kairos weekend event at the prison.
Volunteer recruitment was slow in happening since Kairos was a new and relatively unknown volunteer opportunity in the Yancey, Mitchell and Avery County areas. Many of the initial volunteers came from the MCI volunteer pool. Eventually a local volunteer pool was established.
In 2013, plans were developed to hold the first Kairos weekend at AMCI. Due to a lack of ideal facilities, it was necessary to hold that Kairos “weekend” in the family visitation room on a Tuesday to Friday schedule. The #1 “retreat” as it became known, was held in June, 2014 under the leadership of Neil Brown as retreat leader, Chris Rasmussen as advising leader and Mike Lawrence as observing leader with a total of 36 participants.
The institution administration restricted Kairos retreats to one per year.
Avery Mitchell Correctional is a Medium Custody prison with 800+ residents serving terms for various crimes. This is an all-male facility and is part of the State of North Carolina Penal system.
Kairos provides two programs in this ministry:
4 Day Retreats: Once a year a team of 30 – 50 male volunteers goes inside the walls for 4 days to minister to up to 42 residents (inmates). The program involves times of study through talks, discussions, prayers and fellowship. Meals are shared and celebrations and praise occur with live music provided by the volunteers.
3rd Thursday Night Reunion/Prayer & Share: Every 3rd Thursday evening volunteers meet at AMCI for an hour of talk, fellowship, and prayers with the residents. Volunteers circle up with 3-4 residents and spend the hour sharing concerns, thoughts, prayer requests. This is a time for the residents to talk freely from their hearts in a safe environment where they will not be judged or lectured. This is a time for the volunteers to follow the Karios motto – LISTEN, LISTEN, LOVE, LOVE. Prayer & Share is the Heart of Kairos. The Weekend event prepares men’s hearts to hear the message of Christ’s love. Prayer and Share nurtures that life change and builds a Christian community inside the walls. This is the true purpose of the Kairos Prison Ministry – to build a community of believers inside who can support and lean on each other.
What Can Women Do?
Kairos only permits gender to gender inside participation. At AMCI women act as the Outside Support Team. In this role they are responsible to: