The idea for The Saints Prison Ministry came about in 1982, when God burdened Dale Glading, our ministry’s founder, with a desire to combine his love for Christ and his love for sports for the purpose of reaching the lost.
After thinking and praying about the idea for several years, Glading finally decided to act in 1987. Forming an all-Christian softball team, he was led to contact several area prison chaplains and recreation directors to schedule games. The first game played by the team, originally named The South Jersey Saints, was on June 6, 1987. That day, eight prisoners accepted Christ as Savior at the Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, NJ.
The Saints softball team played just five games that first season, but more than doubled its schedule the following year. A men’s volleyball team was also formed and visited correctional institutions for three years. In 1989, our basketball team was formed and soon supplanted the volleyball squad in popularity and effectiveness. In 2002, the Saints added a soccer team for the purpose of reaching Spanish-speaking inmates. Women’s volleyball followed shortly thereafter, and in 2010 the Saints expanded regionally by opening a Southeastern regional office in the Atlanta area. Most recently in 2012, Illinois was added to the family as a softball team was launched in the Peoria area.
Today, we operate six men’s softball teams, two soccer teams, two basketball teams and two women’s teams – softball in the Southeast Region and volleyball in the Northeast Region. Our World Headquarters is located in New Jersey, with branch offices in Georgia, Virginia and Colorado.
Since 1987, The Saints have played more than 3,950 games in 440 different prisons in 33 states and Canada. During that time, over 29,000 prisoners have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.