Queen Mother Rev. Helen Sinclair, 91, recuperating in hospital

Prisoners prayed for her healing

By Chinta Strausberg

Queen Mother Helen Sinclair, retired prison chaplain and executive director of the Jessie “Ma” Houston Prison Ministry of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, held her regular church Sunday service at Statesville in Joliet where an ambulance was called to take her to St. Joseph’s Hospital after she became upset over the way the prisoners were brought into the gym area.

Rev. Sinclair, who is 91-years-old, became anxious because “they were not brought into the area properly. Some of them felt they could talk and visit, but you cannot do that during a worship service. You can’t do this when we bring the Good News to the prison,” she said.

Reached at the hospital, Sinclair said, “I asked them for their permission to have my funeral at Statesville. I started not to come. I was very tired, but I went anyway. The day before, I had gone to Rainbow PUSH and then my friend’s funeral, Rev. Addie Waytt, I was tired.

“When I get Statesville, I always have a wheelchair waiting at the front gate, but this time it was not there; however, Minister Marie Buscemi, found me a wheelchair. That was the beginning of my agitation.

“We have church at Statesville every second Sunday since 1971 when my mother held services there. I became upset because they didn’t bring the people in like they should. They were standing around talking and visiting which is unacceptable behavior in a church.

“If they bring the inmate choir in along with the congregation, (inmates) the choir does not have time to set up. They’re in their milling around but before they finish they have another set of people coming in. Some of them will get in line to go to the bathroom and others will just stand around talking. At that point, the gym, which is our church area, is no longer holy ground,” she called.

“It was chaotic,” said Rev. Sinclair. “Some who were new to our service and who never went to church were talking as if it were a social hour.  I became upset because the prisoners did not come in with the decorum that they should have and that they are capable of. There was a lot of talking and I don’t allow that. I told them they will learn how to conduct themselves to attend any service at mosques, church, synagogue or any other religious edifice,” she said.

While talking to them, she began to see different colors. “At that point, my staff and about 100 brothers came out of their seats, grabbed my hands and began praying. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. The brothers were cheering me, telling me they loved me and God bless me as I was taken out of the gym to the prison hospital. Later, an ambulance came and took me to St. Joseph Hospital, and I’m still here,” she said.

“After I got sick, a brother was rushed to the hospital, but he is OK. I am worried that I was not able to come to court this past Tuesday for an inmate who is fighting for an appeal.

“I love what I do. The Lord appointed me to do this, and I’ll be back. These are somebody’s sons and daughters, and they will learn how to conduct themselves during church service,” said Sinclair who is anxious to get back to her prison ministry.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.