What is Kairos?

Kairos is an ecumenical Christian ministry designed for use in men’s and women’s correctional institutions. The ministry is conducted, in cooperation with chaplains of correctional institutions, by teams of laity and clergy who are qualified by their experiences in Christian
renewal movements.
The purpose of Kairos is to help build and nurture strong Christian communities among the residents of correctional institutions. The Kairos experience for residents starts with a 3-day short course in Christianity. This weekend involves 42 inmates selected by the
Chaplain and a team of 55 lay and clergy persons. The weekend is modeled after renewal weekends like Catholic Cursillo, Cum Christo, Emmaus Walk and Via De Christo.
After a Kairos weekend, residents continue their faith walk by participating in small Prayer and Share Groups. These groups meet weekly to share their lives on a deep spiritual level and to pray for one another. Kairos participants also attend monthly reunions in the institution with Kairos volunteers. Kairos volunteers conduct 2-day Christian retreats twice per year

Why So Many Cookies?

Each Kairos team member is to bring 200 dozen homebaked cookies to a Kairos Christian renewal weekend.
That adds up to 10,000 dozen cookies.
How are so many cookies used? The cookies represent at least three truths of the Christian life:

  1. God’s unending grace. Cookies are everywhere in the prison. They are a physical symbol of God’s grace, available to all believers (i.e. agape love)
  2. The power of Christian Community. All Kairos cookies are home-baked, demonstrating that real people on the outside can see the inmates through the eyes of agape love and have prayed for the inmates while baking the cookies.
  3. Availability of forgiveness. You can imagine that God’s forgiveness and self-forgiveness are difficult to accept in a prison. On Saturday evening, each Kairos participant is asked to take a bag of cookies to whomever in that institution he/she considers his/her worst enemy and ask for, or grant, forgiveness.

How are Thousands of Dozens of Cookies Used on a Kairos Weekend?

  • On Thursday evening, cookies go with coffee and other beverages to soften the first tense minutes of the meeting between resident participants and team members.
  • Every evening, each of the 42 participants takes back to his/her cell or dormitory many dozens of cookies that are shared with other inmates as the participants answer questions about the Kairos weekend.
  • Cookies are available to the 42 participants every day, all day, in the meeting room.
  • Cookies are provided daily to the security stations, break rooms and staff offices as a way of thanking the corrections officers and other staff for assisting Kairos and let them know that they too are loved by the Lord.
  • All inmates not involved in the Kairos weekend receive two dozen cookies. This takes almost 5,000 dozen. In addition, Kairos participants return to their units on Friday evening with a second grocery bag full of cookies to eat and give away in their cell
    block or dormitory. By this time everyone in the institution knows that something really special is happening inside the walls.
  • On Saturday, forgiveness day, Kairos participants learn about forgiving themselves, asking for and accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving others. They each get an extra grocery bag of cookies to give to another inmate or corrections officer against whom they bear a grudge or from whom they desire forgiveness for something.

The 3 Biggest Myths About Kairos Prison Ministry

 By     March 11, 2016

1) “They just come for the cookies.” Many times, yes, it’s true. Chocolate chip cookies and great food are a huge draw for prisoners who rarely get that kind of treat!

But if that gets them to the Weekend, then we have a chance to change their lives through Christ. Who knew cookies were so powerful?

woman_bible2) “You’re just there to convert people.” Yes, prisoners are often lost in darkness, and we show them the light of Christ’s love and forgiveness – then ask them to forgive others, and most importantly, themselves. They have a new friend and new hope in Jesus Christ, if they choose to allow Him in.

We accept that for some prisoners, this may be just the start of a journey, and for other prisoners, the message may not take hold.

The ultimate goal of Kairos Inside is to build a Christian community inside the prison to pray and fellowship together on a weekly basis by nurturing each other in their faith walk and providing accountability. This is the heart of Kairos!

3) “Only the worst prisoners get to do Kairos.” With the prison Chaplain’s help, we do try to have the negative leaders of the prison participate. The heads of gangs. The ones other prisoners are afraid of. The ones creating trouble on the yard.

Why? Imagine the change that can take place in a prison when the worst leaders suddenly become changed, Christ-centered people! Their influence can spread throughout the prison and reduce the incidence of violence in the prison culture. We have seen this happen time and time again.

Find out more about Kairos Prison Ministry, and how you can get involved in bringing the love, hope and faith of Jesus Christ to those in the darkest of places.

clasped_handsIn 1996 I was assigned to be the Warden at the Marion Correctional Institution. It was a dark place, and Kairos brought the light of love and hope. Over the next ten years the miracles mounted, peace replaced violence, hope replaced despair, broken relationships were restored and incarcerated men lived their faith unapologetically. The culture of the prison changed dramatically.
— Christine M. Money, Former Warden, Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction


Cookies for Kairos

Cookie Guidelines

Cookie Preparation

The types of cookies that are generally acceptable are: Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Molasses, Chocolate Chip, Ginger and Sugar. Check with your local institution for specifics on the type of cookies that are allowed. Cookies should be between 2 inches and 2-1/2 inches in diameter and not more than 1/2 inch thick. It is very important not to use icing, sugar or any other type of coating on the outside of the cookie. Do not add any kind of fruit or nuts to the cookies.

The Key Ingredient: Prayer

Pray individually or as a family over the ingredients before and during mixing. Pray over the cookies as you drop them onto the cookie sheets and bake them. Ask God to use your cookies as a source of His love to shine on the prisoners and staff on the Kairos weekend. Pray that each cookie brings the inmate, officer or warden who eats it closer to God. We want every person to become part of the family of God.

Packing the Cookies

Bag thoroughly cooled cookies in a quart sized Zip Lock bag, a dozen cookies to a bag. Label each bag with the cookie type inside. Freeze all cookies if not using within 3 days.

Getting the Cookies to the Prison

If you are not working on the team, please deliver the cookies to a team member before the start of the weekend, so they can take them to the prison.

Cookie Recipes

Peanut Butter

3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Crisco Shortening
1-1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine peanut butter, shortening, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl and mix at
medium speed until well blended. Add egg and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour,
salt and baking soda, mix well. Add flour mixture to peanut butter and mix until just
blended. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly in a
crisscross pattern with the tines of a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes until
set. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Chewy Oatmeal

3/4 cup butter flavor Crisco
1-1/4¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine Crisco, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix at medium speed
until well blended. Combine oats, flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl,
mix well. Add to Crisco/sugar mixture until just blended. Drop rounded tablespoons of
dough onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly
browned. Makes 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Chip

3/4 cup Crisco shortening
1-1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine shortening, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl, mix until well blended. Add
egg and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda, mix well. Add to
shortening/sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded
tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes for
chewy cookies or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup margarine or shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

In a large bowl, cream margarine or shortening with sugar. Add egg and blend. Add
molasses and spices; mix well. Add flour and baking soda and blend. Chill dough 30
minutes or overnight (covered tightly). Shape dough into small balls and place 2-inches
apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from
oven and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup margarine (or butter); (2 sticks) at-room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat together margarine, oil, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift
together flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add dry ingredients to margarine
mixture. Drop from a teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until
cookies are light brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes (watch closely; cookies
will be dry if they get too brown). Makes approximately 5 dozen.