Exodus Homes is hosting a free, family-centered Memorial Day Blast and Book Signing at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, 1763 Highland Ave NE in Hickory N.C. on May 28, 2011 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm to celebrate his new book “From Disgrace to Dignity”, and thank Anna Griffis for her recent run in the 2011 Boston Marathon in Running for Recovery. The Memorial Day Blast event will include great music, a free cook-out for all who attend, fun activities for children, and games for adults such as spades, chess, checkers, and dominoes. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Rev. Susan Smith at 828-962-8196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Reggie Longcrier has been the Chaplain of Catawba Correctional Center in Newton, N.C. for 22 years, and it’s hard to believe that one of the most respected community leaders in this area spent 25 years going in and out of prison while addicted to heroin and cocaine. In “From Disgrace to Dignity” his journey begins on the street corners of Atlantic City, N.J. where he began his life of crime as a young boy with purse snatching, shoplifting, and breaking and entering. He began serving time in reformatories at age eleven and graduated as an adult to some of the roughest prisons in the country including Rahway and Rikers Island.
His adventures take readers back in time to the 60’s and 70’s in Atlantic City to places like Bruce’s Pool Room, Stanley’s Restaurant, Club Harlem, the Boardwalk, Carver Hotel, New Orleans and Bala Bars to name just a few. When things got too hot he left for New York, or played Three Card Monte up and down the East coast while selling fake jewelry, playing craps, hustling pool, and perpetrating other ingenious schemes to make fast money.
After being crowned Atlantic City King of the Nightlife in 1980, he winds up down south, in and out of N.C. prisons. He describes spending time in Hickory honky tonks like Talk of the Town where colorful characters with names like Snow Ball and Big Rosie were his friends. He even describes opening his own after-hours night spot in Hickory to earn a legal living while on probation for a five year suspended sentence.
Despite all his dedication to “the game”, his addiction continues to rob him of success, and takes him back to prison again and again. The story turns when he reaches the crossroads of his life in a N.C. prison after facing a 14 year to life sentence for the Habitual Felon Act. His remarkable spiritual transformation is inspiring, and a powerful testimony to the great work of dedicated prison ministry volunteers who mentored him and helped him get back on his feet the last time he left prison.
The Zerden family of Hickory played a major role in his redemption when Marvin Zerden hired him to work in Zerden’s Men’s Store on Union Square in downtown Hickory in the early 80’s. Longcrier could not find a job because of his criminal record. The Zerden family took him in and made him one of their own, teaching him more about sales than he ever knew before. He worked at Zerden’s for years while he grew spiritually and volunteered at Catawba Correctional Center to show inmates there a new way to live.
In the book’s dramatic conclusion, against all odds Longcrier beats out many other pastoral candidates with degrees and experience to win the job of Chaplain at Catawba Correctional Center in 1985. He is pictured on the book cover smiling in front of the prison with the keys to the gate where he was once an inmate.
Longcrier explains why he wrote the book, saying, “The intent of this book is not to glorify the lifestyle of crime and drugs, but to pull back the curtain to reveal the slippery slopes and tender traps that lead to a life of incarceration and addiction. I want to give the reader a bird’s eye view of the criminal subculture. It is a baffling, cunning, seductive, tangled web of deceit, greed and drugs. The citizens of this subculture are driven like cattle to be slaughtered mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in prisons throughout the country. I wanted to show that God provides a way out. There can be hope after dope. There can be salvation after incarceration. People can go from disgrace to dignity.
I had never dreamed I would be a prison Chaplain. Only God could take a crooked road and make it straight. Only God could take a convict, and transform him into a prison chaplain. God took my failure and gave me amazing grace. I had a new life with a loving God who made it possible for me to hold my foot in the door for so many others who need another chance to live again.”
Today he is still chaplain at Catawba Correctional Center as well as founding pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church and Executive Director of Exodus Homes, a faith based United Way agency that provides supportive housing for homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons.
“Rev.” as he is affectionately called, will be on hand at the Memorial Day Blast event to sign copies of his book that are already in the hands of local readers, or for those who would like to purchase a copy that day for $12.95. Five or more copies can be purchased for $10.00 each. He is looking for individuals and churches willing to sponsor cases of 50 books to send to prisons around the state and nation.
The self published book was edited by Rev. Susan Smith, and has sold well here and in Atlantic City. He is getting letters from all over requesting copies. Many readers report reading the 169 page book in one sitting because they could not put it down. Mike Barlow, an employee at the downtown Hickory post office raved after reading it saying, “Rev. Longcrier’s story is honest, powerful, and very down to earth. He made every word count. The subject matter is raw, but the spirit that tells it is pure. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great book.” Mitchell Gold, the Taylorsville furniture manufacturer received the book as a holiday gift and said, “I just finished your book “From Disgrace to Dignity a few minutes ago. I’ll simply say it was….without question…THE best gift I received this holiday season. Bravo!”
Anna Griffis who recently ran the Boston Marathon 2011 for Exodus Homes in “Running for Recovery” will also be present at the Memorial Day Blast event to thank all those who supported her in raising over $11,000 for Exodus in April. Rev. Paul Christ from the Lutheran Thrivent Foundation will be on hand to present their supplemental gift of $1,600 in the recent fund raiser.
To learn more about the book, visit www.fromdisgracetodignity.com, or you can buy copies of the book online using a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account by clicking the button below: