Kairos Prison Ministry International traces its roots to a three day “short course in Christianity” held at Union Correctional Institution at Raiford, Florida in the fall of 1976. It was called Cursillo in Prison. By 1978, six states were presenting a Cursillo short course in prisons. The national Cursillo office determined these Cursillo in Prison ministries should be supervised by a central authority and that their format be modified to more closely align with inmate needs.
Cursillo asked the Florida group to design such a program. Nine volunteers, today affectionately referred to as the “nine old men,” redesigned the program and renamed it “Kairos,” which is Greek for Godʼs Special Time. The first
Kairos weekend was presented in 1979. This program is now called Kairos Inside.
In 1989 a chaplain at the San Quentin State Correctional Facility in California sensed that incarcerated Kairos participants were now open to reuniting with their families.
The chaplain asked Kairos to create a program that would minister to the female family members of the incarcerated. In April,1990 the second of the Kairos programs, Kairos Outside (KO), held its first weekend in Northern California.
The third Kairos program, Kairos Torch, had its first weekend in September of 1997 at a youth facility in Oklahoma. Kairos Torch was developed to address young people (25 and under) experiencing incarceration. With the help of volunteers trained in mentoring, Torch encourages the youthful offenders to recognize their God-given potential and helps them develop the skills necessary for a productive life; giving them hope for the future.
Today Kairos Inside, Kairos Outside and Kairos Torch are supported by a staff of 12 and have over 36,000 volunteers donating more than three (3) million hours of service a year.
These volunteers serve in over 400 institutions and 55 KO ministries in 32 states and 9 countries including Costa Rica, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada, Northern Ireland, Dominican Republic, Peru and Australia. Over 25,000 offenders and family members are served by Kairos programs each year.