Friends of Dismas is a church for parolees, ex-prisoners, and their family and friends. Dismas is the traditional name of the repentant thief mentioned in Luke 23: 40-43.
Friends of Dismas meets each Wednesday at 2:30pm at Melbourne Welsh Church at 320 Latrobe St, Melbourne.
Each week attendees share a cuppa, people share how their week has been, have a bible study, and finish with communion and prayer requests. On the last Wednesday of each month, an attendee shares their story.
Friends of Dismas seeks to support people as they transition from prison into the neighbourhood, and hold them accountable to the community that surrounds them. The aim is to be a safe place where people can be heard but know they are not judged. Many have such painful stories and need to seek healing and God’s forgiveness in their lives.
Friends of Dismas endeavour to encourage attendees as they grow in their faith, to live a crime-free life, offering them friendship and supporting them on their journey.
The aim is for there to be ‘No More Victims’; a safer society.
The t24 (Transition 24) program is a partnership between Prison Fellowship Victoria and Friends of Dismas. The aim of the program is to provide practical support to ex-prisoners during their first 24 hours of release and then offer on-going mentoring support for the subsequent 12 months. It is our hope that his will have a positive impact on how the released person integrates back into society and will result in a reduction in recidivism rates for those able and willing to participate in the program. This is also an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through action and care to vulnerable ex-offenders.
The specific group for whom this program has been developed are prisoners who are socially isolated. They are typically aged 50 or over, have no supportive family connections in the wider community, and they have no positive social networks outside prison. People being released under these circumstances are quite often lacking in the skills and social connections which we take for granted. As such, they are vulnerable to returning to prison which may be a situation with which they are more familiar. The provision of mentoring support and the opportunity to engage in community through Friends of Dismas can have a positive impact in addressing the sense of isolation that many people in this situation are forced to endure.
Friends of Dismas will arrange for a person to act as a mentor for the participant. They will make contact either in person or by phone within the first day or two of a participant’s release and will continue to make contact on a regular basis. The format of the mentoring relationship, frequency of contact and methods of engagement are at the discretion of Friends of Dismas. It should be noted though that monthly contact with a participant who is continuing in the program would be considered a minimum.
For more information about this program, please contact Friends of Dismas.
Pastor Kevin Maddock
P:0438 370 082
Pastor Paul Moore
P: 0466 232 611
Address: PO Box 280, Doncaster Heights Vic 3109
Early in 2012, several folks were reflecting on the need for supporting people who were leaving prison. They spent time with people who were interested in meeting this need within Churches of Christ, the Baptist Church, and Prison Fellowship Victoria.
Prison Fellowship volunteers visit over 400 prisoners face to face each month. Over the years the team has become aware of people who either return to their Christian faith or begin a spiritual journey while inside prison. Some of them, because of their convictions, find it difficult to fit into a ‘normal church’ fellowship, especially those on supervision orders where it is not appropriate for them to be in certain situations.
Friends of Dismas spent time with senior police and those who head up Corrections looking at the possible problems of offering a gathering where ex-offenders could come together and share a meal and fellowship, without breaking laws. They have also been most helpful in getting this program up and running. Police have directed people who are in need or isolated to us for support.
Friends of Dismas is made possible thanks to the generous support of volunteers, donations and the many people who pray faithfully for this valuable ministry.