Bishop Mike is spending Christmas morning in prison
Friday 22nd December 2017
Bishop Mike is spending Christmas morning at HMP Highpoint, Stradishall, a category C, including life sentences, male prison near Newmarket. He will take a service in the chapel for scores of prisoners and then have a cup of tea, mingling with them afterwards. Inmates can feel the separation from their families acutely during the festive period and Bishop Mike is hoping to make a difference to their lives on such a difficult day, as they cope with being away from their family and friends.
He said: "Christmas is a time which can be especially hard, when the lack of contact with family and friends is felt especially sharply and there’s a more intense sense of isolation."
In most prisons there’s no visiting on Christmas day and prisoners can’t send or receive presents, so going in on Christmas Day as a Bishop feels particularly significant, showing inmates they have not been forgotten and that they are not as isolated as they might otherwise feel.
Bishop Mike adds "The message of Christmas is that God is with us, even in the most surprising and unlikely of places. I hope that something of this message will come through to inmates. For me, I’m reminded that Jesus identified with the prisoner when he said “when I was in prison you visited me” in the gospel of Matthew."
The Revd Tony Fowler, Chaplain at HMP Highpoint, said "Most prisoners try to treat Christmas Day as any other day in order to help them cope and, attending a service, was often the only thing that marked the day as being different. Some of the prisoners in Highpoint North have been looking forward to seeing Bishop Mike on Christmas Day. With little else for the guys to look forward to on Christmas Day, this was a real opportunity to catch something of the real essence of Christmas which hopefully will be a real blessing to them during the new year and beyond.'’
It is a tradition at Highpoint prison to invite a bishop to take Christmas morning service and this was the second consecutive year in which Bishop Mike has visited on Christmas Day.
Image from the EADT.