3rd October 2022

Friends of Dismas celebrates 10 years!

Ten years ago, the BUV Support Hub, Churches of Christ VicTas, and Prison Fellowship Victoria combined to plant a church here in Melbourne called Friends of Dismas (‘Dismas’ being the traditional name of the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus as mentioned in Luke 23:40-43).

Friends of Dismas is no ordinary church. Rather, it is a church whose mission is to assist motivated adults on parole, ex-prisoners and their family and friends, to grow in their Christian faith, to transition successfully into society, and to live a crime-free life. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary, Friends of Dismas now has three congregations in Victoria: one in Melbourne CBD, one in Box Hill and one in Geelong. 

Kevin and Kathleen Maddock, the first Friends of Dismas pastors.

Their outreach ministries meet once a month via phone and once a month through the Victorian Correctional Facility up in Ararat. 

“Good relationships have been built [in these spaces and conditions]… and participants often [then come up to join one of our three churches],” says Rev Paul Moore, the leading pastor of Friends of Dismas. “They continue to stay on with us, which has been beneficial for our ministry.” 

Usually, at any given location, all the members’ families come along and join the services. “It’s not just a case of one or two, it’s an even spread,” says Rev Paul. “The church caters for all types of faith journeys though its main focus is very much on Jesus and what Jesus has done.” 

Their unique weekly services don’t include the usual praise and worship sessions. Instead, members are asked specific questions that give them “a voice to speak and a right to be acknowledged”. Afterwards, they would end with communion and the ‘Dismas’ prayer, which was a request from the originators of Friends of Dismas up in Canada who happily allowed the church to use their name. 

Knowledge of the church ministry is mainly shared through word of mouth. Rev Paul Moore says, “Often those who come to our meetings have histories and we don’t want to prejudice meetings. We want to create a safe environment for everyone.” 

Paul Moore, the current Friends of Dismas pastor.

As they celebrate God’s faithfulness over their mission and ministry during the last ten years, Rev Paul and the Friends of Dismas staff and volunteers are both grateful and excited for what God has done and will continue to do. 

Friends of Dismas can be very raw and confronting but it really allows us to see God’s work in this area,” Rev Paul says. 

He encourages everyone to pray for their ongoing ministry and mission and challenges the wider Baptist community to be curious about these spaces when it comes to mission and building communities for Christ.  

For those who are interested to learn more please visit the Friends of Dismas website here or to contact Rev Chris Barnden directly at chris.barnden@buv.com.au. 

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