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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Praying for the women of Hagar’s Community Church

 

Pastor feels called to ‘virtual prayer’ for her congregation at Washington Corrections Center for Women

June 17, 2020

The communion set used by the women of Hagar’s Community Church when they are able to celebrate communion together at weekly services. It was made by an inmate from Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary. The women wrote him a letter thanking him for his contribution to their worshiping community. (Photo by Lane Brubaker)

Hagar’s Community Church, a 1001 New Worshiping Community in Olympia Presbytery located inside the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), is currently unable to meet for worship due to social distancing required inside the prison during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“I am able to send out weekly devotionals for use on their units,” said the Rev. Lane Brubaker, “but so far, I have had no contact with my congregation since last week. I am personally grieving not being able to connect with my congregation.”

The name of the church comes from the story of Hagar, found in Genesis 16 and 21. Much like the women at WCCW, the story of Hagar’s unkind history does not go unnoticed by the God who sees her.

“This work I have been called to do has fundamentally changed me as a person,” Brubaker wrote in a Mission Crossroads article last summer. “Being allowed to witness the lives of the women at the WCCW and worship alongside them weekly has opened my eyes to the realities of incarceration in the United States. It also has shown me how transformative God’s love can be.”

Brubaker wrote that the worship services she has had the honor of leading are “full of laughter, gratitude and love.” The few from the outside who have had the privilege of being able to visit during worship say they are caught off guard by this. Expecting worship to be much more somber, they comment on the power of the women’s faith and how it speaks to and teaches them.

“The women in my congregation are living many people’s worst nightmares — they are separated from their family, especially their children,” Brubaker wrote. “They have little freedom to make choices about their lives, and the world defines them by their worst mistake. Yet these women have shown me what it means to love one another, what it means to support each other, what it means to rely on God and what it means to joyfully come together in worship.”

For women who know that they will be spending the next several years at WCCW, having the congregation of Hagar’s Community Church to belong to is a bright spot. One woman, who said she would be spending the next seven to 10 years at the WCCW, described having a Christian community as “life-giving” and something she never imagined possible while incarcerated.

While this woman was sharing, Brubaker said she realized how important it is that these women have a place where they are not known for their worst mistakes, but rather as God’s beloved.

“During this time, I am asking God to use me however possible, and I am feeling called to prayer. I know prayer is powerful and needed.”

Brubaker invites people of prayer everywhere to be part of a great cloud of witnesses lifting up the women of Hagar’s Community Church in prayer each Saturday from 5–6 p.m. Pacific Time. Prayer sessions will continue as long as this health crisis lasts.

For more information, contact Brubaker at hagarscommunitychurch@gmail.com.

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Washington Corrections Center for Women

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Louisa Gallup, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Marissa Galvan-Valle, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

Let us pray:

Almighty God, give us grace that your knowledge may become ours. May we grow in faith, and bear fruit worthy of your people, living and growing in the Holy Spirit, both now and forevermore. Amen!