Sing Sing Prison Ministry
The scene is the Chapel of the Redeemer at Sing Sing Prison.
Richard Mateyka is presiding and he says, "God is good!"
and the 200 plus men in the chapel roar back, "All the
time!" How can men
experiencing the confinement, humiliation, frustration, and
boredom of prison life, say this and mean it?
Many of them have found that they can trust a God
of hope who loves them unconditionally and has forgiven them
wholly. What is Richard Mateyka doing there and how did all this
History of Hephzibah House Prison Ministry to
Sing Sing Prison
after the Civil War, before 1880, God spoke to the heart of
Mrs. Virginia Field, a young, wealthy, society matron in New York
City. God's message
was, "I want you to teach a Bible class at Sing Sing Prison."
Mrs. Field spoke to her husband, who spoke to the Governor, who spoke
to the warden, who invited Mrs. Field to come to Ossining and
begin a Bible Class, which she did.
When Mrs. Field
assumed the directorship of Hephzibah House, she brought
along the commitment to the men of Sing Sing Prison.
It was the first prison ministry by women in the
Since that time, once a month, a gospel service has been
held at Sing Sing Prison. In 1964, Hephzibah
House invited Bjorne Nyborg to take charge of this ministry. Mr.
was joined by Harald Tonnessen whose music ministry
transformed the inmates into such a choir that it was
suggested they go on tour, which they heartily endorsed!
Mr. Nyborg served for over 60 years before his "homecoming" in
the 1970's, the Sing Sing Prison chaplain invited
Hephzibah House to conduct the Protestant Chapel Hour on
Sunday mornings. Hephzibah House has led the
Chapel Hour on the fourth Sunday of every month since
that time. In addition to the
Chapel Hour, Hephzibah House supplies tracts,
Bibles, and helped to establish a library.
Through the offices of Artie Pitt, a
very fine electronic organ was provided to Sing Sing and it is used
regularly. More recently, a married couple, who often play
music for the Chapel Hour, secured other wonderful instruments that are used during
When Mrs. Field first went to Sing Sing
gave her a promise, "Behold I set before you an open
door which no man can shut." The door is still open
ministry has continued without interruption, by
God's grace, since the late 1870s. Every month the good news goes
out to prisoners, "God is good---all the time." .Thousands of inmates have had
the opportunity to hear about the love of God in Jesus
Christ and His transforming power. At the present
time, a team of about ten volunteers continues this vital work
at Sing Sing Prison.
Please pray with us for continued access and
effectiveness as we obey Jesus' mandate, "I was in
prison, and you came unto me. "
information please call: 212-787-6150
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