Theological Education in Prisons

March 23, 2020

Prison bars event

Conference Overview

Despite increasing public attention to our current mass incarceration crisis, the United States still incarcerates more people (both in absolute numbers and per capita) than any other nation in the world. Roughly 2.3 million individuals are currently incarcerated in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers. The call for the Church to care for those in prison is clear but discerning the best course of action to fulfill this call is challenging.

Using frameworks of reform or frameworks of abolition, many civic organizations, educational institutions, and religious congregations have pursued varied responses to the crisis. Churches and church members may work to raise awareness, get involved in political organizing, or volunteer to visit or correspond with those in prison. There is also a growing movement in the Church and its institutions to offer theological education in prisons as a response to this crisis.

This one-day conference, Theological Education in Prisons: The Incarceration Crisis and the Church, seeks to identify and learn from current approaches to theological education in prisons. The Call for Papers closed January 24 and those selected for presentation are noted below.

Selected Papers

  • Liberative Theological Jail Education, a paper presented by Lejia Johnson, Project Director at McCormick Theological Seminary for Theological Studies at Cook County Correctional Center.
  • “Something Much Greater”: Transformative Implications of Prison Theological Education, a panel presentation and discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Bounds, Associate Professor of Christain Ethics at Candler School of Theology; Dr. Rachelle Green, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Religious Education at Fordham University; and Sarah Farmer, Assistant Professor of Theology and Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University.
  • Freeing the Imprisoned and the Nation that Imprisons Them, a paper presented by Dr. Andrew Skotnicki, Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College.
  • Doing Theology in Prison: Academic Theology as Liberation and Resistance a paper presented by Dr. Jennifer M. McBride, Associate Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Programs and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary.


8:00–9:00 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast
9:00–10:15 a.m. Welcome and paper #1 presented with discussion
10:15–10:45 a.m. Coffee break
10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Paper #2 presented with discussion
12:00–1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00–2:15 p.m. Paper #3 presented with discussion
2:15–2:30 p.m.
2:30–3:45 p.m. Paper #4 presented with discussion
3:45–4:15 p.m. Summary and closing

Registration & Fees

Pastors, practitioners, volunteers, scholars, and seminary students are invited to register.

A light continental breakfast, lunch, and coffee break are included. Lodging is available, at an additional charge, at The Erdman Center on the Princeton Theological Seminary campus. Information about booking lodging is included in the registration confirmation. A limited number of seminary students may attend at no charge but must register to secure a place.

Standard Fee: $40
Seminary & University Students: No charge

Register Now

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Associate Rector at Trinity Church, Princeton, New Jersey

Nancy Hagner, Class of 2013

“Preaching is one of the most important things we do as pastors. You get to challenge people’s minds and hearts, as the gospel challenges all of us.”