Why We Exist

Our mission is to build relationships with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people through inside ministry, pursuing advocacy based on what we learn, and easing people’s re-entry to society through connection with and support from UU congregations, all to further the fight against mass incarceration and to create a future where restorative justice systems reflect our UU values of justice, compassion, and respect.

Our Unitarian Universalist principles call us to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We want to engage those most in need of affirmation – the people locked up, often for very minor offenses, in Illinois prisons, who look to worship services for badly needed peace and solace. The UU Church of the Larger Fellowship serves 700 people in prison who deeply value our shared faith, and 260 people in Illinois prisons have pen pals through the GLBTQ group Black & Pink. The need is clear. Our UU presence and support in prisons can save sanity, spirit, and even lives.

The Chicago UU prison Ministry of Illinois will foster connections between UU congregations and Illinois prisoners.

1   Offering liberal religious ministry inside prisons, Read More
2   Advocating for policy changes related to prisons, Read More
3   Teaching radical hospitality to congregations welcoming formerly incarcerated people, Read More

Mass Incarceration: The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. It is even worse for women: the U.S. holds nearly 33% of all women incarcerated worldwide. Racial disparity is a major factor: black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses than white people, although whites use and sell more drugs than blacks do. Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercies, urges us to get in proximity to injustices we want to challenge. The UU Prison Ministry of Illinois will do exactly that.