Resurrection in the here and now
Bishop William Swing, who laid hands on Trammel for his ordination said of the prison service, "It meant that Resurrection is not just for the afterlife but here and now." According to the Episcopal News Service article
Tramel began ministry as an Episcopalian while working with dying inmates at a hospice in the California Correctional Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif. In 1998, Tramel became the first inmate accepted at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, where he earned a Masters of Theological Studies degree through a distance-learning program.Steve Rice's July 3rd sermon Prisoners of Hope, which connects with Tramel's story, is worth a read.
In the Episcopal Church, those who have discerned that they are called to be a priest undergo a lengthy process, testing their calling first with a congregation, then by a commission appointed by a bishop. The process includes education and completion of an advanced degree, academic and psychological testing, and proven service in ministry. Those who are approved to become priests must first serve as deacons for a period ranging from six months to several years.
Tramel, a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley, met with members of his congregation and the Commission on Ministry through letters, over the phone, and in the visiting room at Solano Prison. While conducting his studies, Tramel began an Episcopal congregation at the prison, which started with a group of inmates saying prayers from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Eventually, the congregation grew, and chaplains began visiting to conduct full communion services.
Swing ordained Tramel to the deaconate on July 4th, 2004. As a deacon, Tramel has been more involved in the planning and leadership of services for the prison's Episcopal congregation, but he had very little sacramental responsibility. In the past when there was no priest available to conduct services, the congregation would have Communion (also called Eucharist) with bread that had been consecrated at a church outside the prison. Now that Tramel is a priest, he will be consecrating the Eucharist for the Episcopal worshipping community in Solano Prison.