The Jackson United Methodist Women hosted a mission luncheon July 11 to benefit the Kairos program at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson.

The luncheon was held at the church’s social hall, welcoming participating churches Ethel Baptist, First Baptist of Jackson, Norwood Baptist, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and Second Baptist of Jackson.

Kairos, a nationwide faith-based ministry that addresses the spiritual needs of incarcerated men, women, youth and their families, consists of three programs: the Men’s Inside and Women’s Inside Ministries, Kairos Outside and Kairos Torch.

In Louisiana, the ministry has programs at nine correctional facilities, including the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.

“Kairos volunteers meet with inmates, sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ,” said Beth Dawson, member of Jackson Methodist Women. “The team hopes to change these offenders’ hearts by showing them love in so many different ways. As a ministry, Kairos embraces a diverse group of volunteers who work together to fulfill Christ’s call to action in Matthew 25:36.”

Sandra Wilcox, president of the women’s group, recognized all the participating churches at the event that sponsored a table, and the Rev. Joy Comeaux, pastor of JUMC, recited the gathering’s opening prayer.

Dawson introduced the event’s four guest speakers — Art and Patti Paquette, of Slidell, and Manny and Margaret Pineda, of Mandeville — who have been involved with the Kairos Inside and Kairos Outside programs for many years.

“The couples have been very instrumental in getting the first successful Kairos programs launched at DCI,” Dawson said.

The speakers shared a bit about the “Kairos movement” and how it helps inmates as much as volunteers.

The two couples encouraged attendees of the luncheon to get involved by becoming a team member, prayer partner, support volunteer, ministry financial donor or cookie baker.

“We may need up to 5,000 dozen cookies for a typical Kairos weekend. You do the math. That’s 60,000 cookies,” said Art Paquette, leader of the first Kairos program at DCI.

Paquette, a song leader for Kairos and Cursillo, a three-day spiritual retreat in Louisiana, performed several songs on his guitar, which features signatures of the Dixon inmates participating in Kairos.

The JUMC Women’s group raised $2,500 for the Kairos program at DCI through donations and a silent auction that was part of the luncheon.

To volunteer or learn more about Kairos at DCI, email Rich Jeppesen at crichard_jeppes@bellsouth.net.

For information about the Kairos ministry, visit mykairos.org.