Working Together for Worship
August 28, 2019
(Alexandra Barton, DOC Communications)
For the past three years, the Wiccan, Druid, Asatru, and Pagan religious groups at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center have gathered together every May for a communal celebration of spring. A religious volunteer from A Druid Fellowship, Kirk Thomas, is impressed by how well each diverse group works together to make the event happen. Thomas says that even though cooperation was not easy at first, over time the groups have learned it is better to compromise & respect one another.
“It’s wonderful to see them all come together and everybody is friendly, everybody is nice, and that is really cool,” Thomas said.
One of the Druid participants, Benjamin Ballenger, enjoys being able to meet new people at combined religious meetings. Developing better, inclusive relationships with those of his own faith, as well as other faiths, has helped him improve his social skills, Ballenger says.
“It brings all of us out of our shells. It gives us the opportunity to mingle, to be hospitable towards one another, and step over boundaries we may have had in any other situation,” Ballenger said.
Religious events help the department in its mission to improve public safety by providing opportunities for incarcerated individuals to create pro-social connections. Such connections can help smoothen their reentry into the community and reduce recidivism.
“It’s important because it proves to administration as well as to each other that they can do this,” Thomas said. “They can cooperate, they can get along, and these are skills they are learning that they’ll be able to take into the outside world.”