Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Statement Regarding Penn Avenue Redemption Church Video


Redemption Mission provides faith-based services for inmates through an arrangement with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) and has been hosting services since 1994. Family members, visitors and guests are welcome to attend the services and were previously allowed to bring food to be consumed on-site, but could not give food items to inmates to take back to correctional facilities. On November 12, 2021, the DOC requested a change in this practice so that no food items of any sort would be allowed to be brought into the church due to an influx of contraband that had been coming into the correctional facility—incidents of which have unfortunately occurred through people attending the service. The church provided a meal, and the policy change was announced during the service.

Volunteers at Redemption, many of whom are former addicts, are badged volunteers trained by the DOC to look for particular ways in which contraband can be passed—including bringing in drugs with food, which has happened in the past. Maintaining a drug-free environment is vital for people who are in recovery, so these standards must be strictly enforced. Because Redemption is one of few ministries that allows for ministry with incarcerated persons outside the walls of correctional institutions, following policies is critical to being allowed to continue those ministries—ministries which not only help people to break the cycle of addiction, but allow families to spend time together.

Redemption is a significantly diverse church that welcomes all and does not discriminate against any persons based on ethnicity or family of origin. Persons who are disruptive are asked to leave worship services.

We want all persons to feel welcomed into our church, a part of which is maintaining safety standards for the inmates, the DOC-approved volunteers who transport the inmates, and the staff at Redemption Mission Penn Avenue.

We are committed to fair and equal treatment of all and regret any misconceptions that may have occurred as a result of this incident.


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