BOLEY – A crew of inmates, volunteers and two state lawmakers completed the walls and set the roof trusses of the John H. LilleyCorrectional Center’s new 5,000 square-foot chapel this week.
Kansas-based World Mission Builders is constructing thechapel at no cost to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, which operates theminimum-security prison. Sens. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, and Dewayne Pemberton,R-Muskogee, joined the crew for their Tuesday.
“Put some tension on it so it won’t be waving so much,”shouted one gray-shirted inmate perched on the roof, guiding a crane-suspended,wind-whipped truss into place as another inmate below tried to hold it steadywith a rope.
In addition to religious services for inmates, the chapelwill house GED programs and other educational services, while also serving as ameeting location.
Retired Oklahoma City plumber Roger Marchand volunteered hisservices to help complete the chapel.
“My Bible tells me that you give back as you’ve been given,”said Marchand, who added he also worked on a chapel at Eddie Warrior CorrectionalCenter that the nonprofit built.
The inmates assisting are plumbers, carpenters and otherswho have extensive experience in construction.
A former state inmate himself, Marchand said he enjoys thework because he gets to interact with inmates fighting addiction just as he didwhen he was incarcerated decades ago.
Ensuring the work crew was well-fed were volunteers fromHighway Baptist Church north of Seminole. They cooked food including delicious soupsand other victuals to sate the heartiest appetites.
Sunday school teacher Martha Hester, and husband and wifeShirley and Gerald Carter were cleaning up in a tent near the chapel Tuesday.
They said their church’s motto is to not be a “gallery forsaints – but a hospital for sinners.”
“We just have a wonderful, loving church,” Hester said.“That’s just our church.”
The Tulsa World reports the nonprofit has completed morethan 300 such projects since 1975. The Boley chapel will be the sixth built atan Oklahoma prison. Crews hope to complete it by the end of this year.
The John H. Lilley Correctional Center houses more than 800inmates, most of whom near the end of the end of their sentences.
The 256-acre site offers inmates the chance to gainon-the-job experience in a variety of work crews, including agriculturalservices, food service, maintenance, housekeeping, groundskeeping andindustrial work.
Educational services include pre-literacy, literacy, adultbasic education and GED courses, as well as college-level classes and vocationalcourses. Substance abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, and other similarservices are also offered.
Joe Wilson with World Mission Builders talks with Oklahoman reporter Carla Hinton Tuesday at John H. Lilley Correctional Center in Boley.The mission is constructing a new chapel for the state corrections facility in Boley.