We are so excited to introduce you to Tim Burkholder, our new 33rd Street Campus Minister! Tim first started attending Summit in 2002, and has been an incredibly active and devoted volunteer over the years. As Tim takes on his new role on Team 33rd, he shares his thoughts on his first time visiting the jail.
It was my first time in the 33rd Street jail. I had no idea what to expect and I was slightly nervous, thanks in part to Hollywood portrayals of life “behind bars.” It was a Sunday afternoon and I was there early because—let’s be honest—I didn’t want to break the rules. Rule number one if you’re visiting a jail: don’t break the rules. The rest of the team arrived on time and, after setting off the metal detector (it’s always the belt, even at the airport, right?), we were on our way to dorm 6d of the Horizon Building for church.
We walked past the razor-sharp barbed wire, which is pretty intimidating up close, and into Horizon. Once inside, the control room buzzed us in to where we were going to set up for the service. The room looked a lot like a high school cafeteria and as we began to set up the speakers and projector, I had a slight feeling of nostalgia. I remembered the early days of Summit Waterford—how we would arrive early Sunday morning to convert an elementary school cafeteria into a church sanctuary. I remembered that long before Waterford, we would connect XLR cables to microphones each week at Winter Park High School, and how, even before that, we would push chairs around at the Aloma Cinema Grill so that people could worship God and do church together (in a movie theater of all places).
Although the environment was new, I felt a sense of home while locking arms with Team 33rd as we transformed a unique venue into a place where inmates could hear that they very much matter to God. It was quickly apparent that it very much mattered to them that Summit shows up week after week. It’s the only campus I’ve been to where the congregation sings louder than the band, and where nearly fifty percent of the attendees turn in prayer request cards each week.
I discovered that the vision of Summit was and is being lived out inside 33rd Street Jail. Our 33rd Street campus continues to do what Summit has always done: reach lost people, connect in Christ-centered relationships, teach truth, serve others, and worship God.
The opportunity to serve at 33rd has been incredibly meaningful in the life of Summit Church and in the lives of the men and women who pass through the jail. Through Sunday services, Summit Connect groups, and reGROUP, we seek to make connections with inmates that encourage them to take their next right steps with and toward a God who loves them unconditionally.
Despite my nervous anticipation of what a campus inside of jail might look like and feel like, the team walked with me every step of the way and I quickly learned there was nothing for me to be anxious about. I walked out past the razor-sharp barbed wire and felt like a part of the family. I myself was encouraged through having the chance to do life alongside the men of 33rd, and I felt privileged to be the newest member of Team 33rd.
We’d love to have you join us at Summit’s most unique campus. There are plenty of opportunities to serve, from handing out bulletins to leading worship. If you are interested in joining Team 33rd, email the 33rd Street Campus Ministry Coordinator, Abbie Abbot at email@example.com.