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Indiana Church Reaches Out to Ex-offenders


JoAnn calls the congregation at Community Christian Reformed Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., her extended family.

A participant in the Allen County Re-Entry Court early release prison program for ex-offenders, JoAnn has been embraced by the church that helps lead weekly Celebrate Recovery meetings at Allen County Corrections.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step addiction recovery ministry for adults. Family, friends, and supporters of participants are also welcome at the meetings, which include dinner, worship, large- and small-group sessions, and a children’s program that teaches God’s love with hands-on activities. JoAnn attends with her six-year-old nephew.

Community CRC got involved with the Celebrate Recovery ministry through Rev. Jim Halstead, who has served the congregation since January 2010 and is also the faith-based director of the Allen County Re-Entry Court. Halstead is currently ordained in two other denominations and is working toward becoming a ministry associate in the Christian Reformed Church.

Reaching out to the Fort Wayne community is one of the church’s goals, Halstead said, and the congregation has warmly welcomed several Celebrate Recovery participants who are attending worship services there, including JoAnn.

“The church has been so positive,” Halstead says. “I can’t say enough good things about the people here.”

JoAnn said the church constantly encourages her, showing love and compassion in ways she has never known.

“Jim Halstead and the church came around and helped out with things I don’t even ask for,” she says. “I had nothing, and they furnished my apartment. It was like angels coming.”

Halstead says that Community CRC has been equally blessed. “It is when you are active in sharing your faith in word and deed that you experience the good thing we have in Christ.”

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