McRae Correctional Facility, McRae Helena, GA

Bonnie Conklin was called to prison ministry in 1986 and became a prison chaplain 10 years later. From February 2014 to September 2019, Bonnie Conklin served as a staff chaplain at McCrae Correctional Facility. Upon her arrival at McRae, Chaplain Conklin discovered there was a Messianic congregation.

This is the account of how that congregation began, as relayed to me by an inmate who was here prior to my arrival.

An Inmate’s Account of the History of McRae’s Messianic Congregation

In February 2013, I came to McRae Correctional Facility. As soon as I arrived I went to the chapel to find out if there were any Messianic congregations and was surprised to see a time slot for a service. There were 3-4 people meeting from the Seventh Day Adventist group. I asked if they were Messianic and what that meant to them. None of them could answer, so I tried to explain the faith. They immediately asked me to lead the group. I began teaching, and invited others from my dorm. The group was English speaking only, and grew to 12 in the first few months.

Soon, an individual who only spoke Spanish joined the group, and we decided to interpret the teachings into Spanish. We began a bilingual service, and had too many people coming, and had to move to a classroom, and eventually, to the chapel. At one point we had 70-80 people coming from all religious backgrounds, with less than half of them listed officially as Messianic.

I believe they sensed the truth had been hidden from them. Some people were hungry for something more. At the same time, when the numbers grew, the other Christian groups began to teach against us, and pressure Christians not to attend.

The true word of God is something different and challenging. It meets us where we are and promises to take us further. It’s a light, a refining fire, a glorious sword. It’s His word to His sheep. The Messianic assembly of the McRae facility needs that truth restored.

More inmates are coming to have their faith changed. We have about 70 inmates listed as Messianic, and are attending services on Friday night on a regular basis. We also have a Tuesday night Bible Study where Rabbi Greg’s DVDs are watched. This group of believers are growing in Yeshua daily.

Chaplain Conklin was transferred to another facility in September 2019, and Chaplain Michael Payne has replaced her. Contact him if you are interested in volunteering at CBY McRae.

Chaplain Michael Payne
phone: (229) 868-4288
email: michael.payne@corecivic.com


People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

– Wise Words