Frank and Maxine Barton’s Extraordinary Legacy

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Florida Focus, published by the Florida Conference Public Relations Department and written by Janeth Montenegro.

A video version of this story is available on YouTube.

Florida Prison Ministries was founded in 1989 with a simple yet profound calling: to give every inmate, their families, and friends an opportunity to know Jesus and be saved.

Frank and Maxine Barton, along with Malcolm and Hazel Gordon, first introduced prison ministry to Florida Conference. Later, Obed Graham, who was Florida Conference President at the time, started an official prison ministries organization within the conference.

From the beginning, Frank and Maxine have recruited and trained volunteers, instilling in them the belief that they are ministering to individuals whom God loves greatly. “God cares for these inmates, no matter what they’ve done, and He wants to save them,” says Frank Barton.

Over these 35 years, Florida Prison Ministries team members visited inmates, provided Bible Studies, led a Spiritual Pen-Pal Program, produced a monthly printed newsletter for inmates, prepared care packages, created a program for the children of inmates called Love a Mother’s Baby (LAMB), and provided safe, stable housing for released individuals through halfway homes.

Maxine Barton was the key leader in running the Spiritual Pen-Pal program, sending Bible Studies to prisoners, and receiving correspondence in response to our monthly newsletter. The Spiritual Pen-Pal program is a pivotal way to minister inside prisons, as inmates often feel alone and seek ways to communicate with others. In 2023 alone, they received 800 requests for pen pals.

We have been truly blessed to have Maxine and Frank Barton serve the Lord through pioneering Florida Prison Ministries. Frank served for 33 years and retired in 2022. Maxine continued to volunteer two more years until 2024. We celebrated her 35-year achievement and retirement on January 28, 2024, with the prison ministry leaders of churches from both Florida and Southeastern Conferences.

“We have been supported by all of our wonderful family, volunteers, and conference for all of these years. What more could you ask for?” says Maxine Barton. “Our mission may change, but we will always praise the Lord for His Grace and Mercy in our lives. Who knows what the next mission will be?”

We can catch a glimpse of God’s love through the selfless ministry of Maxine and Frank.

Editor’s note: We are saddened to report that Frank Barton fell asleep in Jesus Sunday, April 7, about the same time this article was published. His ministry has brought many lives to Jesus, and this legacy will not be forgotten.

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