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. That office oversees the ministry operations in Virginia, Georgia in 2012, Illinois was added to the family as a softball team was launched in the Peoria area.
Today, we operate eight men’s softball teams, two soccer teams, a basketball team 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 3,000 games in 420 different prisons in 33 states and Canada. During that time, over 28,000 prisoners have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
There are very few Dale Gladings in the world, and the Saints Prison Ministry is forever grateful to God for instilling in him the courage and determination to begin this ministry. His vision and passion made this ministry what it is today, and his conviction in the face of adversity paved the way for every Saints family member that has followed him. In 2011, God led him to begin a new ministry in Florida, but his spirit lives on in all that we do.