Churches pitch in to bring Christmas to men incarcerated at Turbeville Correctional

By Jessica Brodie

This Christmas, people who are incarcerated at Turbeville Correctional Institute will be getting some extra-special help from United Methodist churches and pastors thanks to a cry for help—and a heartfelt response.

The Rev. Edward R. McKnight serves as senior chaplain at Lee Correctional Institute, Bishopville, and he has recently been filling in as senior chaplain at Turbeville Correctional, Turbeville, as well.

One day, McKnight received a call from Nina Staley, deputy director of programs, re-entry and rehabilitative services for the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Staley asked what he was doing for Lee for Christmas, and McKnight described how a church would be bringing brownies to those who are incarcerated.

Then Staley asked what was being done for Turbeville.

“I was stumped. I shared with Ms. Staley that nothing has been done,” McKnight said. “Her comment was, ‘Chaplain McKnight, those young men should get something for Christmas.’”

Immediately, he knew Staley was right and pledged to get right on it.

After prayer, McKnight picked up the phone and called Florence District Administrative Assistant Angela Bethea, who gave him names and phone numbers to pastors in Florence and Clarendon counties.

“She told me not to worry—it will work out,” McKnight said.

Bethea was right. Right away, several pastors and churches agreed to help.

On Tuesday, Dec. 22, the churches helped bring Christmas to Turbeville delivering Christmas boxes with a sandwich, chips, dessert and a drink.

Those that helped included the Rev. Ken Thomas (Manning UMC), the Rev. Frank James (Friendship UMC), the Rev. Joyce Timmons (Bethesda UMC), the Rev. Jack McElveen (Cades-Cameron Charge), the Rev. Greg Davis (Pine Grove-Salem Charge) and the Rev. Major Brown (Lake City Circuit). Kairos, which consists of UMC laity and other faith groups, also helped, as did leaders from nondenominational churches Great Commission Ministries (Pastor Derek Fort) and Church on the Move (Pastor Paula Morris).

“God has an awesome way of doing things,” McKnight said. We have accomplished our goal to feed the total population of Turbeville, and it was a testimony of the body of Christ coming together to meet a need.”

McKnight also lifts thanks to Staley, who inspired the idea, as well as Bethea and Florence District Superintendent the Rev. Terry Fleming for their help and encouragement, as well as the warden and staff at Turbeville Correctional Institution and the many volunteers who helped.

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