The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


If you build it, they will come

Nine inmates and 17 parishioners recently worked and ate together while rehabbing a three-bedroom house in Hendersonville, N.C. (photo at right). The inmates were from the Henderson Correctional Facility, and the members were from the Lutheran Men in Mission group of Grace Lutheran Church, Hendersonville.

"By the end of the week, I knew all the guys by their first name," said George Kiefer, LMM president, referring to the inmates and the guard who worked alongside them. "They took special pride in putting up all the vertical cedar siding on the house."

In addition to the siding, the group remodeled the 10-year-old home completely — cleaning, patching and painting the interior walls. They removed baseboard and old carpet, constructed and moved walls, installed a stairway and two decks, built a fireplace, framed a garage door and put a downspout drain in front of the garage. They even polished the woodwork.

The home will be sold by Home Aid, a local charity, to raise money for its yearly renovation projects.

"The inmates were all volunteers," Kiefer said. "Some of them wanted to polish their skills so they would be ready to go to work when they get out. Others volunteered to get a break from prison food and prison routines."

One of the inmates was a repeater from last year when the groups built a playground near a low-income housing project.


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February issue


Embracing diversity