IOWA PARK (KFDX/KJTL) — The hopeful addition of 460 seats to the chapel at the James V. Allred Unit is taking off with fundraising efforts at a steady pace.
Ahead of a benefit concert Sunday, May 16, we meet one former prisoner who said a much larger place of worship is dire.
When Buck Ross went to prison in 2001, he was faced with 25 years to life. He thought he’d never see outside the prison walls again.
“God had a different plan and so within the first 15 days that I was there, I started reading the bible and started going to the services that they had,” former inmate and general contractor Buck Ross said.
“I’ve been out 17 years now and haven’t had anything more than a speeding ticket and so it changed everything and not only did it change my life, but I was able to lead my mom and my dad both to Christ and my family members to Christ.”
Ross’ refuge became the chapel at the Allred unit, that is when he was able to get through the doors.
“Imagine a city with 4,000 people in it and it’s got a chapel that’ll seat 40,” Ross said. “I can remember many times when they would call church at the door and they’d say the first five that get to the door can go to the service and the rest of the 50 men in that cell can’t.”
From 40 seats to 500, a team of inmates, religious leaders, and volunteers plan to build a brand new place of worship.
“For years, chaplains and inmates and volunteers have been praying for a chapel out at Allred prison and a couple years ago, a couple volunteers decided to answer that call,” Allred Chapel Project Committee’s Charles Grady said.
“Since then there’s been a lot of volunteers that have come together and formed a committee to raise money to build a chapel.”
With a million dollar price tag standing in its way, the committee is ramping up its fundraising.
On Sunday, May 16, a concert at Heritage Church in Wichita Falls hopes to make a dent.
“Two of our long-time artists that have been coming out and helping do tent revivals concerts a couple times a year are actually going to be coming out,” Grady said.
When it comes to salvation, Ross knows firsthand the impact of the church. It’s the reason he won’t quit until 500 inmates can worship as one inside these prison walls.
“I was raised in a household with an alcoholic and a drug addict and so at 10-years-old I was bartending for my dad and at 12-years-old I was rolling marijuana cigarettes for my mom,” Ross said.
“So I always knew drugs and alcohol were just part of my life and so a lot of these people are like that and grew up in that and so we need to be broken from that, we need a new path and that’s what the church does.”
Behind bars, the church can mean that much more.
Before breaking ground, the committee has to have 80% of the $1 million raised and they’re $700,000 away from that 80%.
The concert May 16 begins at 5 p.m. at Heritage Church at 2216 Southwest Parkway.
The concert will feature southern and country gospel and Christian rock, blues and soul.
It’s free, but donations are greatly appreciated for this much needed cause.