St. Dysmas of South Dakota Welcomes You.
Have you ever been in a place where you were a stranger?
Perhaps as you walked down the street you saw someone who needed help. It was someone you didnít know, someone that was not likely to be your friend. As a Christian you stopped to lend a hand because thatís what Christians do.
The scriptures confirm that we should reach out to help strangers when we see their need: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."
- Matthew 25:35-36
We've all been a stranger at one point in time or another.
As Christians, through our faith, we know that we're loved and accepted by Jesus. We know that when night falls we're not alone. Yet, there are hundreds, if not thousands... who donít have this knowledge, and many who cry:
"Jesus, remember me!" - Luke 23:42. The thief who hung on the corss beside Jesus and cried out for mercy was one of these. Through tradition he has come to be known as St. Dysmas. "Today you shall be with me in paradise," Jesus said to him.
Today a congregation named in honor of St. Dysmas is changing the lives of the incarcerated at St. Dysmas of South Dakota, a fully chartered mission congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Organized within the walls of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, St. Dysmas is a pioneer in establishing bona fide "churches behind bars." Inmates "own" the program and, through a council elected from their membership, direct its ministry.
Just like other congregations, St. Dysmas parishioners participate in worship, Bible study, choir, and take part in special projects.
Though incarcerated, these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one body together with us.