Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for serving on a Charis team?
A volunteer must have a testimony as a Christian and should have participated in a three-day Charis, Kairos or Cursillo-type weekend, either in prison or on the outside. Volunteers must also submit a Charis team-application form. Team members are approved by the Board of Directors.
What gifts or talents are useful in Charis ministry?
Our motto is “Listen, Listen, Love, Love.” Careful listening and expressing the unconditional love of God are perhaps the two most important gifts.
Volunteers with particular talents or qualifications, such as clergy credentials or music ability, may be encouraged to share these talents on the Charis team. Spiritual directors and musicians are always in short supply.
What is it like to enter a prison?
Charis is active at the Delta Correctional Center, a minimum security facility. As a minimum security facility, there is no fence around the property and the Correction Officers do not carry guns. In some ways it is similar to a small college property with dormitories for the residents, unlocked living areas and a campus that includes a basketball court, weight lifting area, horse-shoe pits, a baseball field and a running track. Meals are normally provided in a large cafeteria, however during the three day weekend events, the Charis team provides homemade cookies and restaurant meals to the entire group served inside the chapel.
Prior to becoming approved to serve on the Charis team, a volunteer must pass a background check by the Department of Corrections (DOC), plus receive a one-day training class and a facility tour conducted by the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Charis gatherings take place in the Chapel of Hope, originally constructed using private funds. It is the only such prison chapel in the state. The Charis team members do not meet one-on-one with the residents, but rather collectively with the entire community or in smaller break-out groups.
Is personal safety a concern?
There have been no occasions where Charis or its predecessor, Kairos, volunteers faced personal exposure to risks during the 27 years these ministries have been at DCC. All Charis volunteers must participate in annual volunteer training that emphasizes personal safety and security, as well as training on how to respond in the event of emergencies.
What is the commitment of a Charis team member?
A Charis team volunteer is expected to attend all team meetings and be present for the entire 3-day Charis weekend. A Charis team member also agrees to attend and participate in monthly reunions at the prison for one year.
Can Charis volunteers write or make phone calls to inmates?
No. Charis is a group ministry, not a one-on-one ministry. Contact with inmates apart from Charis weekends and reunions is not allowed by state prison regulations, nor is contact with friends or members of inmates’ families.
Can a woman serve on a Charis team?
Based on our current policies, women do not serve on the Charis team as part of the table families in the community room. Those positions are only filled by the male members of the team. However, a number of women do serve as Kitchen Angels in the Chapel kitchen helping to prepare and serve the meals provided by the team during the three-day weekend.