In 1985, David Knuppenburg, was on track for becoming a church pastor. But, as God often does, his life was directed onto an unexpected pathway. Shortly after returning from a Bill Gothard’s Pastor’s Conference, David was watching a local news report on television at his girlfriend’s (now wife) apartment. He watched the usual “perp walk” as the handcuffed young man is led into custody. But this time was different because David recognized this man as a friend from high school. He recalled the recent in-depth teaching he had received at the Pastor’s Conference on the work of ministry from Matthew 25:31-46.

The verse that particularly struck him was where Jesus had said, “…I was in prison and you came unto me.” (verse 36). That one phrase changed the course of David’s life. He went to visit his friend in the Chemung County Jail and shared with him the booklet, “Steps to Peace in Christ”. His friend asked Dave to see a friend that he met in jail and that friend had a friend and soon Dave was making weekly jail visits and on the path to prison ministry. He began preaching on Sundays at the jail and met George Keith and Ed Coby who were working with Pastor Doug Smith of Golden Key Prison Ministry.

“Chaplain Dave”, as he has been known for over 27 years, feels that the work of the chaplain is “to be available as a role model of Christ, to help escort people on their spiritual journeys.” He also actively recruits and trains volunteers to fulfill the roles that God has called them to so he has a large group of active volunteers in Chemung County.

Additional information relating to this ministry may be found on their website: