Prison Seminary Program

Prison Seminary Program

Program Overview:

Despite not being an actual “seminary,” the Christian Studies program at the Lea County Correctional Facility (LCCF) is designed to educate incarcerated men throughout New Mexico in Christian theology in preparation for vocational ministry. While some graduates will be released back into society to do ministry, many others will spend the rest of their lives within prison walls ministering to their peers. The ultimate goal is to see moral rehabilitation occur within the New Mexico correction system through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The inmate students enrolled in the seminary program take the same exact courses in Christian Studies as our on-campus students without any compromise in the rigor or integrity of the program. Within two years, the students complete all 42 hours for a Major in Christian Studies. USW also supplies many upper-level courses towards the students’ minor as well. Click here to see a copy of the Christian Studies Degree Plan.

The program is designed to be completed in 2 years. Typically, there are 3 classes offered in each of the 16 week long-terms (Fall and Spring), two to three classes offered in the Summer 5-week terms, and between one to two classes in our Fall and Spring mini terms respectively. Students are trained by USW professors as well as by qualified instructors serving as area pastors. The courses offered provide students a solid breadth of education in both Christian theology and practical ministry.

Program History:

The “seminary” program began with 25 students, virtually no resources, and a prayer in the Fall of 2015. Having already held some interest meetings with LCCF administration and inmates in the summer of 2015, a partnership appeared to be forming between LCCF and University of the Southwest (USW). All that was needed was the (not so minor) issue of funding.

In the summer of 2015, USW was approached by some generous donors in Albuquerque who agreed to pay basic expenditures of the University for this program. What was needed now was our University board willing to waive some $1.5 million in tuition and counting. Our board embraced this opportunity to demonstrate Christ-like service as it aligned with our mission statement listed above. At very short notice, cohort 1 was assembled and classes began on September 3, 2015.

Despite humble beginnings, this program has become a blessing and source of pride for all who have been involved. USW continues to add a new cohort each year and holds a commencement service each summer for those who have completed the program.

Program Outcomes:

Some 80 incarcerated men have enrolled in the seminary program since its inception in the Fall of 2015. USW has held two commencements services as of the summer of 2018. These graduates are dispersed throughout New Mexico prisons to minister to their peers. Here are some notable outcomes from the USW prison seminary program:

·  33 Certificates in Christian Studies awarded to date
·  5 Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences in Christian Studies awarded to date
·  200 baptisms at the Los Lunas prison led by 11 of our seminary graduates
·  Significant reduction in violence and self-mutilation at the Los Lunas prison
·  Church start at the mental health unit in Los Lunas
·  40 baptisms led by two graduates at the Grants, NM prison
·  Significant reduction on crime and gang activity
·  Reduction in gang activity and violence
·  Dozens of inmate led Bible Studies
·  Inmate led Celebrate Recovery and Malachi Dads groups

One graduate from cohort 1 who transferred to the Los Lunas facility writes:

God has been so good to us since we’ve arrived here. To see God move in real and tangible ways simply blows the mind, but it’s been a privilege to be a part of it and to utilize the knowledge and teaching you all gave us through the seminary program. We are praying for the current seminary students and hope that they too will catch the vision and step out into God’s plan for the New Mexico prison system.

In terms of performance, these students rank as some of our highest achieving students. Over 90% of the graduates in cohort 1 graduated with honors. The following cohorts continue the exceptional academic performance of their predecessors for which we all are very proud.

How Graduates Are (and Can Be) Used:

·  Pastors
·  Pod Walkers/Cell Block Ministers
·  Evangelistic rallies
·  Personal evangelism
·  Personal discipleship
·  Leading Celebrate Recovery, Malachi Dads, Biblical Manhood, Gang “Drop Out” program, and           more curriculum
·  Peer mentors for inmates who will be released (Pre-release ministers)
·  Reentry court mentors
·  Counselors
·  Mentors and prison orientation team for new inmates
·  Suicide watch
·  Deliverer of death notices and divorce papers
·  Perform funerals
·  Chaplain’s assistants
·  Any ministry on the “outside” of the prison

Program’s Future:

USW has waived some $4 million in tuition to date for this program. It is our desire to maintain a bright future for the prison seminary with hopes of expansion into other correction systems. Aside from instructor’s costs, there are the costs of textbooks, hiring of an assistant registrar, academic advisors, admissions staff, and travel. Would you join us in praying for and supporting this program?

For more information about the prison seminary program, please contact Dr. Danny Kirkpatrick, Prison Seminary Director, at or (575) 492-2164.