Remembering Consuella York, the “Jail Preacher”

York PortraitThis February, in celebration of African-American History Month, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives commemorates the life and spiritual legacy of Rev. Consuella York (1923-1995), the “Jail Preacher,” and showcases a few items from her personal papers.

Affectionately known as “Mother York,” she ministered in the Cook County correctional system for over 43 years, bringing the Christian message of love and redemption to inmates and correctional officers alike.

Born and raised in Chicago, Consuella York demonstrated an early aptitude for preaching, inherited from her Baptist preacher father. In her 1988 oral history interviews held in the Archives, York recalls winning a prize for oratory in 1948 and shortly afterward entered the Chicago Baptist Institute, where she studied advanced homiletics and pastoral theology, despite the fact that her church denomination did not ordain women as clergy members or allow them to preach. In the same oral history interview, York describes the day 1952 that changed the direction of her life: Continue reading