Berks County Jail System Chaplaincy

The Reading Berks Conference of Churches has been ministering in the jail in Berks County since 1979. Today, 2 full-time and two part-time chaplaincy employees minister to the jail population of over 1200 inmates. Over 200 volunteers are coordinated each year to enhance the ministry offered. We meet the varied religious needs of all inmates through these dedicated staff and volunteers.

Approximately 32 services are offered each week in the Chapel. They include, but are not limited to: Protestant worship (in English and Spanish), Catholic Mass (in English and Spanish), Muslim Jumu’ah, Muslim Taleem, Buddhist meditation, Bible study male and one female, Sunday School, Yoke Fellowship Study, and Orthodox Bible Study. Most of these programs are offer twice; once for males and again for females. Male & Female inmates may not be in the Chapel at the same time. Grief support programs and special faith based programs during the year. When the term male and female are used this indicates separate services as we cannot have males and females in the Chapel at the same time.

Beyond worship services and study opportunities, the Chaplains also supervise Professional Clergy Visits and offer Grief support programs and other special faith based programs during the year.

The Chapel houses a library and arranges weekly visits for interested inmates. Chaplains distribute free of charge a vast list of faith based materials covering many faith walks to inmates including Protestant and Catholic Bibles in both English and Spanish, Qur’ans, Mormon and Jehovah Witness materials and Bibles. In 2014 we distributed over 16,593 faith based texts and bibles.

The Chaplains rely heavily on the faith community of Berks County for the faithful volunteers who support the worship services, Bible studies, one on one groups, grief support, and special programs. Currently, there are approximately 180 religious volunteers! Additionally, all faith-based materials are donated. Our Christmas gift program is a major event and involves volunteers, several churches and the Salvation Army of Berks County.

Volunteers and donations are always needed and welcome! For more information, please call the BCJS Chapel at 610-208-4800 ext. 4376 or e-mail at lmast@countyofberks.com.

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