Balmoral Presbyterian Church

Memphis, Tennessee

“I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36). Dona Sparger, an elder at Balmoral Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, took that Scripture to heart seven years ago. Working with the national volunteer program Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS), Dona persevered in getting the administration of the federal prison in Memphis to allow visits from the program, and in 2014 Dona asked other members of Balmoral to join her in this ministry. Since that time, seven members of the church have volunteered — each meeting one-on-one monthly with inmates who request the service. The prisoners sometimes have no family or friends living near enough to visit or are estranged from their families — some have never received an outside visit. Dona and her Balmoral team visit with no agendas, talking about whatever is on the prisoner’s mind. One inmate recently asked PVS to relay a card to his Balmoral visitor in which he wrote: “Thanks for being a friend when I’m having my ups and downs.”

Photo caption:  The Balmoral prison visitors team: (from left) Glenda Ellis, Karen Pilkington, Janice Hill, Dona Sparger, Art Hall, Kristen Gurlen and Scott Dawson