Advent Day 15: God cares for the prisoner

A church congregation in Inverclyde is hosting a lunch on Christmas Day and amongst the guests will be former prisoners.

Rev Jonathan Fleming, minister of Lyle Kirk in Greenock, said members "cannot wait" to share food, fellowship and friendship with 40 people from all walks of life.

Prisoners lunch
“I feel very fortunate to be the minister of a church with such a caring team of people displaying the hands, feet and words of Christ, not just at Christmas, but all year round.” Rev Jonathan Fleming.

The lunch will be held in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines and is being organised by Lyle Gateway, a community project based in the church which has been awarded a local authority grant to buy food and drink.

The former prisoners are supported by a charity called Inverclyde Faith In Through-care. (IFit), which meets in the church on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Invaluable relationships

Staff and volunteers help people returning from prison to the community to learn new life skills, develop confidence, access training and employment opportunities to help them make positive changes to their lives.

IFit co-ordinator, Robbie Miller, said: "The Lyle Kirk's Gateway Café has been a very important partnership to Inverclyde Faith in Through-care and we feel very much a part of the community.

"Our participants feel accepted as they begin to build on social skills and develop new invaluable relationships.

"By speaking with the other people at the café, they are able to raise awareness of the issues they are facing and others learn about the many barriers they deal with on a day to day basis.

"This is a great way of sharing stories and really getting to know each other."

Mr Miller said Lyle Gateway, which supports people who have been involved with the criminal justice system in other ways, had provided tremendous support to IFit during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

"I would like to extend a thank you for the love and support shown with kind gestures of food donations and vouchers to participants in need," he added.

"We are very grateful to have Lyle Gateway as a meaningful partner."

Words of Christ

Mr Fleming said: "At a time of year where God's extravagant love for the world is shown through the gift of his Son, Lyle Gateway at Lyle Kirk cannot wait to share food, fellowship and friendship with many this Christmas.

"We feel very blessed that people from all walks of life feel comfortable and safe at Gateway.

"I feel very fortunate to be the minister of a church with such a caring team of people displaying the hands, feet and words of Christ, not just at Christmas, but all year round."

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