500 women prisoners enjoy concert by Veritas, sponsored by Grace Place United Methodist Church

5/21/2018

Concert pictures were not permitted (by prison officials) to be taken, but members of Veritas posed for a picture just outside the prison before they went inside. From left, back row, are James Berrian, Jordan Johnson, volunteer Laura Hartman, Scott Lawrence, Jeff Anderson, Andrew Goodwin and volunteer Lauren Enzor. On the front row, from left, are volunteer Rev. Amanda Hartman Westmoreland and Grace Place pastor, Rev. Diane Harrison. (Submitted photo)


“Hope Survives” was the opening song of a May 19 concert, sponsored by Grace Place United Methodist Church at the church’s home inside the Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

Veritas, a contemporary classical vocal group, presented the concert in memory of E. Hunter Harrison, brother of the church’s pastor, Rev. Diane Harrison. Harrison's brother died in December 2017 and “was a generous supporter of Grace Place,” she said.

Approximately 500 women prisoners attended the concert inside the prison’s gym, reported Harrison. She said they “responded very enthusiastically” to the opening song that spoke "powerfully" to them and also is the title of the group's new album.

The concert event was equally moving for the members of Veritas who, according to Harrison, communicated to their agent after the concert, “Best experience we’ve ever had in our six years… truly awesome and humbling! So glad the Lord opened this door for us!”

Click HERE to learn more about Veritas, which is “Latin for truth,” according to Diane Harrison. Members are Jeff Anderson, James Berrian, Andrew Goodwin, Jordan Johnson and Scott Lawrence.

GRACE PLACE’S LOCATION

Grace Place United Methodist Church began its relocation from the  Mark Luttrell Transition Center in Memphis to its present location (60 miles north) last August.

The church moved because its members moved.

“Because of the increase in the number of female felons in the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) moved men from the medium security unit at West Tennessee State Penitentiary at Fort Pillow and converted it into a facility for women which they named the Women's Therapeutic Residential Center (WTRC),” Harrison explained. 

The women's unit (WTRC) currently houses about 1,000 women, according to Harrison, but has a capacity for 1,500. The other side of the compound houses medium and maximum security men with a capacity of 1,000. 

GRACE PLACE’S MINISTRY

Currently Grace Place United Methodist church has nine volunteers who make the trip to WTRC each week for a variety of small group activities that include Bible Study, yoga/aerobics classes, a crochet ministry, Celebrate Recovery ministry (60 women participating), 12-step group, book club, choir and worship, reports Harrison. 

~Compiled by Lane Gardner Camp, Director of Communications