Thursday, January 26, 2012

I have a dream

These famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., came from the mouth of Warden Mary Berghuis, as I sat in her office at the Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan. She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a set of blueprints. As she spread them out on her desk, one could see that these were plans for a beautiful chapel, to be located right on her prison campus. Seems that she had shared her dream with a prominent Muskegon architect, who not only picked up on the idea but made his own contribution to the prison system by designing the entire facility at no charge.

Warden Berghuis explained that there was plenty of room for the chapel. In fact, she had chosen the perfect spot so that it would be easily accessible for prisoners there.

The subject came up as we discussed previous programs presented at the prison by HIS MEN, a male chorus that I founded in 1972 and directed for 21 years. HIS MEN is still involved in presenting programs in prisons. But there's no chapel in Muskegon, and the programs must be presented in rooms with poor acoustics and awkward seating. The proposed 200-seat chapel would be a wonderful addition to the prison facilities. The big problem is cost. The state is not going to pay for a project like this, so private funds must be raised. The warden reported that so far $8,000 has been raised. $1 million is the goal.

It sounds like so much, and yet we hear of huge sums being spent these days on political campaigns. Compared to those expenses, a million dollars is peanuts. And for such a good cause. I promised to help...personally, and through HFP. We have good friends, and they have good friends. I think this goal is reachable.

I'm hoping and praying that the Mary K. Berghuis Chapel will be converted from dream to reality.

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