The Rowan Tree Church receives requests from prisoners on a frequent basis. Each year more than five times as many prisoners as there are Church Members seek help, asking for free publications, training, guidance, letters to be written to help them with their legal work, books and other free services. What prisoners may not realize is that our Church is very small, with limited financial support and limited volunteer help.
Our attempt to provide limited support began within a few years of The Unicorn’s first publication. By the mid-1980s there were many requests for free copies and free subscriptions coming from inside the prison system. Today, decades later, the number of requests is so great that free samples and free subscriptions would overwhelm a print newsletter. Survival for a newsletter like The Unicorn is already so difficult that very few of our peer publications have survived even without offering to help those within walls.
Rev. Frank (‘Lizard’) began to try and help by offering copies of our Member newsletter to a limited number of incarcerated folk.After a few years a growing health issue made it necessary for him to bring this to a halt.
In 1999 our Founder established the “Prisoner Outreach Program.” Within 30 months the number of participants grew 400%. The need for Wiccan literature, for experienced Wiccan educators and clergy to extend help to the incarcerated is very great.
Even in the outside world there are limited resources such as a shortage of teachers who are fully trained and enough Wiccans so that groups can readily rent ritual spaces and purchase sacred space. And those in this country’s prisons are desperate for people to come in, to be sponsors and clergy. Groups on the outside are generally still trying to figure out how to survive. They are small, and trying to fund their own organizations.
It should also be noted that Wiccans in the outside world often have the same fears and prejudices as those others. Many of them have been the victim of crimes, many have been raped. Many of them are horrified to learn that there are registered sex offenders living in their neighborhoods. Most of them have never seen the inside of a prison and not many of them have had the honor of attending a Wiccan group’s ritual or feast on the inside. I believe that every voter who wants to vote on prison sentences or building prisons or in lowering their tax-supported funding should visit at least one facility and spend time talking to those who are kept there.
What is the purpose of this program? It is to provide materials for those who wish to embrace The Tradition of Lothloriën and who, when released or upon completing the program, intend to become active and supportive Church Members.
For additional information contact: The Rowan Tree Church, 16501 County 13 Dept. P, Houston, MBN 55943