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Chaplain's ministry links facility with community.

The Rev. Henry Bouma, chaplain at the Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Ill., received The Salvation Army's 1992 Chaplain of the Year Award during ACA's Congress of Correction last August for his more than 25 years of ministering to prison and jail inmates.

Bouma's connection to corrections began in 1966 when, as a young pastor for the Christian Reformed Church, he began visiting a jail in Redwood City, Calif., and counseling a parishioner who had shot and wounded his wife. That experience led him to volunteer much of his time to work inside local jails and prisons.

After more than 15 years of volunteering, Bouma decided that he could accomplish more by working full time in a prison ministry. He began a full-time prison chaplaincy in 1985 at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Ill. About three years ago, he became Dixon's chaplain.

Much of Bouma's work involves counseling inmates and overseeing various religious services, including Bible studies and a meeting for Muslim women. "I help the inmates try to get their lives straightened out," Bouma says. "If they are really interested in changing their lives, they'll commit to the Lord."

Bouma currently is trying to forge a bond between Chicago-area churches and Dixon's prison ministry. He hopes that introducing the inmates to local churches will help them build a support base after their release, and that regularly bringing in local church groups as volunteers will help make the congregations more open to ex-offenders.

"It takes active community support to help get an ex-offender started on the right path," Bouma says. "If the inmates can get into positive ministries, we won't see them in here again. Churches have to be willing to nurture them back into new lifestyles after their release."
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Title Annotation:Best in the Business; Reverend Henry Bouma of the Dixon Corectional Center in Dixon, Illinois
Author:Spertzel, Jody K.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:291
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