Allene Means has responded to the gospel call to mission by entering
what she calls the "biggest evangelism field in the world,"
our prisons. Not content simply to exercise the lonely ministry
of prison chaplaincy, however, she has also become an advocate
for those driven to the margins of our society. She has led the
Christian community to recognize, embrace and live out our baptismal
promise to serve Christ in all persons. Since 1999 she has been
Director of Prison Ministries for the Episcopal Church, in the
office of the Bishop for the Armed Services, Healthcare and Prison
In May 2001 Jackie
received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa
from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
Jackie Means' ministry has been on the edge of things from the
start. During seminary, she discovered her love of prison ministry
while doing field work in the women's section of a county jail.
Then on January 1, 1977, amid threats on her life and objections
from the assembly, she became the first woman regularly ordained
to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. After her ordination,
she served for 12 years as Chaplain at Indiana Women's Prison,
while still on the staffs of parishes in Indianapolis. She has
been chair of the Advisory Board for Marion County Indiana Juvenile
Detention Center, and director of Jail and Prison Ministries for
the Diocese of Indianapolis. She is the founder of Craine House
for Women, a facility which began as a half-way house for women
coming out of prison, and which continues as a facility for women
serving prison time who wish to keep their pre-school children
with them. She has programmed and implemented several national
prison ministry conferences sponsored by the Office of the Bishop
for the Armed Services, Healthcare and Prison Ministries, and
she has pioneered an innovative summer camp experience for children
whose parents are in prison. Faithful to her continuing concern
for women in prison, Jackie developed a clown ministry for them
which encourages creativity, strengthens self-esteem, and allows
the women to use their talents to enrich their family life outside
Jackie has also served the marginalized from inside a local congregation.
Under her leadership as Rector from 1986-1998, the small parish
of St. Marks' in Plainfield, Indiana operated the only homeless
shelter in the county, as well as a program tutoring schoolchildren,
a health screening and monitoring program, a food pantry, and
a drug screening program. Jackie is married to William D. Lyons,
and has four grown children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.