Fellowship and Continued Growth

The Heart of Texas Foundation supports the mission and goals of TDCJ and the Rehabilitation Programs Division. As the service providers of the Field Ministers Program, we want to take the next step in preparing men and women who earn the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry to be effective once they reach their outlying units to begin their work as Field Ministers.

The Field Ministers Academy will be annually sponsored and hosted by The Heart of Texas Foundation, in partnership with TDCJ.

Program

With the help of TDCJ and RPD, we are creating The Field Ministers Academy.

  • The Field Ministers Academy will be held periodically via regional phone conferencing and one in-person gathering of all Field Ministers.
  • Upon graduation from The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry at the Memorial Unit, the newly commissioned Field Ministers are transferred to their field assigned units.
  • The Field Ministers Academy will be a gathering of all Field Ministers across the state.
  • The Heart of Texas Foundation will bring in special guests who are leaders in Government, Corrections, and Pastoral Ministry.
  • The Field Ministers Academy will be coordinated with TDCJ in all respects.

We want to give the men the opportunity to be strengthend and refreshed as Field Ministers. We want them to have the added confidence that comes with extended training based on the years of experience we have all gained since the first Field Ministers went on the field in 2015. We want them to continue to minister to men like Karl who you can hear from in the following video.

The Field Ministers of the John B. Connally Unit faithfully visited the men in restricted housing. Karl Harris was one of those men. Karl is now a leader for the good on his unit and has received a reduced sentence with the opportunity to be released from prison. Without the Field Ministers being able to visit Karl, he might still be lost in a cell alone.

Men

Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry


The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry provides the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry to men with extremely long prison sentences. Men with extremely long prison sentences must qualify according to educational and behavioral standards set by and agreed upon between the college and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Each year, incarcerated men from all over the state of Texas are given the opportunity to apply. Each year, a class of 40 men are carefully selected. The new class is transferred from all over the state of Texas to the Memorial Unit in Rosharon, just south of Houston.

The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry degree plan:

Education

The Texas Field Ministers Program includes two parts: 

1.) education 2.) service. 

Step 1:

Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry. The Heart of Texas Foundation and The Texas Department of Criminal Justice recognize the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry for Men at the Darrington Prison Unit and the for Women at the Hobby Prison Unit as the only degree qualifying the completion of the first step in becoming a Texas Field Minister. 

Step 2:

Working as a Field Minister. The whole point of the Texas Field Ministers Program is to become a Texas Field Minister. The Heart of Texas Foundation works in collaboration with The Texas Department of Criminal Justice to successfully transition men and women who have earned the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry. The Heart of Texas Foundation continues to support and strengthen the Field Ministers in their new roles on the field with resources, visits, communication, and advocacy.


NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATORY POLICY
AS TO STUDENTS

The Heart of Texas Foundation admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Funding

The Texas Field Ministers Program is privately funded through The Heart of Texas Foundation, a federal nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that does not, nor has ever, received tax dollars of any kind.

No tax dollars are used to pay for the instruction, chairs, tables, computers, or any instructional resources including all books and paper used in the Texas Field Ministers Program. Any indirect funding, any dollar the state pays, such as lights and heat and security and administrative oversight of inmates in general in allowing the Texas Field Ministers Program to exist (as it does for any program), finds its end in the rehabilitation goals set forth by TDCJ.

Instructional space and supplies. The Heart of Texas Foundation raised $2 million to renovate a dilapidated gym within the perimeter of the Darrington Prison Unit and donated the building back to TDCJ for the Bible college portion of the Texas Field Ministers Program. The building renovation was completed and passed TDCJ inspection in November 2017. The first semester with students in the new building was the Spring of 2018. The Heart of Texas Foundation hosted the official ribbon cutting on May 14, 2018 with the leaders of the four key partners and invited donors and guests in attendance.

Before:

The abandoned gym at the Darrington Unit before The Heart of Texas Foundation capital campaign and renovation project.

After:

Three identical classrooms like this one are part of the Bible college space at Darrington.
Grove Norwood speaks to the student body at Darrington in the new library which now holds more than 28,000 volumes.
Two computer labs identical to this are part of the Bible college at Darrington. The building houses 96 computers so that students can efficiently complete their class assignments.

The Heart of Texas Foundation donates and maintains or replaces all classroom furniture, fixtures, and equipment including two classrooms of computer labs with 80 student work stations. The building is supplied with an extensive phone and intercom system. The building is more than 12,000 square feet and houses a large library, three classrooms, two computer labs, men’s and women’s restrooms, a correctional officer station, a kitchenette, a director’s office, a director’s staff office, a small conference room, Field Ministers workroom, closet space, and a security-minded mechanical room. Classrooms can hold 50 students, and each classroom has a television monitor and computer to aid with Instructional Technology.

Instruction. In addition to the instructional building and its contents, The Heart of Texas Foundation funds the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry. For the women in TDCJ custody, The Heart of Texas Foundation will prepare the temporary classroom space for the Field Ministers Training Center for Women at the Hobby Prison Unit. The Heart of Texas Foundation will work on the permanent school building for the women inside the perimeter of the Hobby Unit while classes begin in the temporary space with the goal of beginning the school in the Fall of 2020 with pre-college classes. The Heart of Texas Foundation will fund the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry for women in the Texas Field Ministers Program.

Events and advocacy.  The Heart of Texas Foundation hosts the graduation receptions for guests and takes graduation photos for graduates and their families. HOTF hosts events throughout the year to celebrate, advocate, and educate regarding the Texas Field Ministers Program. 

The Texas Field Ministers Program development and support.  The Heart of Texas Foundation continues to equip and cross-train and give resources and support to Field Minister Teams anywhere they are assigned in the state of Texas. Each team receives a $7,000 mini-theological library with two computers and one printer delivered by HOTF. The Heart of Texas Foundation hosts, in Huntsville at TDCJ’s headquarters, an orientation regarding the Texas Field Ministers Program to wardens and chaplains throughout the state. The CEO of The Heart of Texas Foundation is an active member of the Field Ministers Advisory Council. The Heart of Texas Foundation works with the TDCJ Field Ministers Coordinator to plan the Field Ministers Academy which will be held for the new graduating class after graduation but before they become Texas Field Ministers. The Heart of Texas Foundation completely supports and funds the Field Ministers Reading Acceleration Center in TDCJ, an opportunity for inmates to learn to read from Texas Field Ministers. We mobilize volunteers and connect churches to their local team of Field Ministers.


The Heart of Texas Foundation supports all people in the Texas Field Ministers Program, both men and women, from the time they apply to the Texas Field Ministers Program throughout the duration of their incarceration in TDCJ and even upon their release from prison—a joy for us to do. 



Roles & Relationships

Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Executive Director, Bryan Collier

TDCJ Executive Director, Mr. Bryan Collier speaks about the significance of
The Texas Field Ministers Program at The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry annual event.

Texas State Senator, Dean of the Senate John Whitmire

Senator John Whitmire, Dean of the Texas Senate and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, describes the significance of the Texas Field Ministers at The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry annual event.

The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and The State of Texas Executive and Legislative Officials exist independently of one another. The entities have enjoyed the right and privilege to work together respectfully, successfully, and lawfully to provide long-term inmates the opportunities for voluntary but rigorous training and responsible service as part of becoming a Texas Field Minister. Each entity and its representatives are professional, accountable, and careful to respectfully bring our different areas of expertise together in this rehabilitation work—this work toward human flourishing. The State of Texas Governor and legislators provide the highest level of protection and permission for the Texas Field Ministers Program to exist. TDCJ, for safety and for reasons of law, trumps all endeavors within its walls all the while accepting and utilizing one of many programs—the Texas Field Ministers Program—to specifically serve men and women with long sentences who, upon becoming Texas Field Ministers, can responsibly go in the prison where no volunteer can go. The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry provides the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry degree at no cost to men and women with extremely long prison sentences. The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry from The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry is the education TDCJ recognizes for a Texas Field Minister. 

TDCJ cannot lawfully drive an agenda of any faith. The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry understands and respects the neutral accommodation TDCJ makes for inmates to practice their faith. The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry serves everyone in TDCJ to help inmates achieve and surpass the rehabilitation goals set forth by TDCJ. Every rehabilitation goal TDCJ has is also our goal at The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry. 

TDCJ accommodates the faith-based educational and service components of the Texas Field Ministers Program giving men and women with long prison sentences, who may never live anywhere but prison, the opportunity to show that they have achieved TDCJ’s goals. The Texas Field Ministers Program is one way TDCJ accomplishes its goal to “provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist victims of crime.” TDCJ could accomplish their goals without the Texas Field Ministers Program, but the Texas Field Ministers Program provides evidence of the accomplishment of their highest goals.  

The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry understands and respects TDCJ’s professional and neutral accommodation of any religious aspect of the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry. TDCJ’s rehabilitation goals and security structure serve as the compass of the daily operations of The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry. Our clear roles and responsibilities and professionalism allow for continued improvement of the lives of men and women serving out their extremely long court-assigned sentences.


Ours is a statewide prison movement, and that requires close working relationships with key organizations and key individuals. We would not have teams of Field Ministers in training and in prisons without the historic working efforts of the State of Texas represented by the Governor’s office and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; and The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry.

It’s our honor to represent The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry and advocate for the men and women in the Texas Field Ministers Program no matter where we go.

It has been our pleasure to attend the inaugurations of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott.  Governor Patrick and Senator John Whitmire, Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, have been strong supporters of The Heart of Texas Foundation College of Ministry from the beginning. They immediately shared our vision for teams of Texas Field Ministers to be equipped, trained, and sent out into other prisons to serve the long sentences in ministry to others. 

Thanks to our key partners, Field Ministers are given special, unprecedented job descriptions that would allow them access to virtually all parts of the prisons, under supervision— to minister to men living in the darkest of places.  

2019 Texas Inauguration, Official Seal