On June 30, the congregation of Matthew's Table will take its worship service to the inmates serving time inside the Daviess County Detention Center.

Church members will set up on one side of the barbed-wire fence while the inmates will be seated on the other side.

Roger Chilton, lead pastor at Matthew's Table, said this will be the first assembly at the jail this year but the church held two services there in 2018.

Chilton said witnessing to inmates has been a major mission of Matthew's Table since it began on May 7, 2017.

"We have a heart for the incarcerated," Chilton said. "... We tell everyone to bring a chair and we literally have our church service there as opposed to our building location."

Typically, Matthew's Table holds its services every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Senior Community Center of Owensboro-Daviess County, 1650 W. Second St.

A trailer that will double as a stage and sound equipment are hauled to the jail location at 3337 Kentucky 144 for the service.

The event is coordinated through Jailer Art Maglinger who has to secure the manpower and safety logistics beforehand.

Maglinger said his guards will "flex" their time to be available during the church service.

"It's not something we could do like every week," Maglinger said. "We can only do it periodically because of the staffing."

Despite the extra planning involved, Maglinger said he's supported from the beginning the idea of bringing church to the inmates.

"It really appealed to me because I see the value, as a believer in Christ myself, in sharing the gospel," Maglinger said. "I think the spiritual component of mankind is overlooked a lot of times. I think this is the most effective way to deal with the root cause of criminality, which is sin."

Two services will be held -- one for the women and the other for men. Each service will have between 40 to 50 inmates who volunteer to be in attendance.

Maurice Hanley was among the male inmates who attended the October service held by Matthew's Table.

Hanley, 23, said after he was released a month later he started attending Matthew's Table.

"I really wanted to find a good church home and I could tell that Matthew's Table was a place where someone like me, who had charges and my background, would be loved and welcomed," said Hanley, who now plays and sings in the church's worship band.

But next week, Hanley, who spent six months in the Detention Center, will return there but this time as one of the church's worship band members.

"It's going to be surreal to see the jail again," Hanley said. "It's also going to be very humbling because it was truly a miracle that I was able to get out. ... But I'm really looking forward to being able to worship with the guy inmates and the girl inmates. Just to let them know there is hope in jail and outside of jail."

Chilton said it's not uncommon for churches to send representatives to the jail, but Matthew's Table wanted to reach the inmates in a different way.

"I think it sends a bigger message with a whole church showing up, and doing their church service with the inmates, versus sending two or three in to love on them," Chilton said. "They appreciate both, obviously, but the message is significantly greater when you have 150 people, sitting in lawnchairs, willing to leave the pew and the building."

During the service, Matthew's Table also provides breakfast sandwiches for the inmates.

Chilton said he hopes other churches will consider taking their worship services to the jail.

"Our prayer the whole time was not that we have the market on doing something like this, but rather other churches would see the advantage to the ministry and do jail services as well," Chilton said.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer, 270-691-7299

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