Dec 17, 2021

This year Eastern PA Conference members and churches again reached out to incarcerated persons with caring messages of encouragement penned on signed Christmas cards.  And again, the ongoing pandemic required such determined creativity as arranging pick-up and drop-off sites at a handful of helpful churches.

The conference’s Prison Ministries & Restorative Justice Team is grateful to have received and delivered 5,700 completed and signed cards to 13 correctional facilities.  In addition, they appealed for, collected and distributed about 1,500 unused, unsigned cards requested by the head chaplain of the Philadelphia correctional system’s six facilities with 6000 inmates. 

It was the team’s first time sending unsigned cards that inmates can use to send Christmas messages to their families and friends—literally, a gift that keeps on giving. And that provision will continue as more unused cards are received.

“The chaplain was delighted to receive unused cards, and we are still accepting them, as they can be used for next year,” said the Rev. Marilyn Schneider, PMRJ team chairperson.  “If anyone would like to take advantage of after-Christmas sales on these cards, we would welcome them, as long as they meet the requirements:  NO GLITTER, NO STICKERS, and no written messages.”

Schneider is thankful for ongoing support of this yearly outreach ministry that began in 2016. She was interviewed Dec. 15 by an Associated Press reporter for a news story about creative efforts to help inmates celebrate Christmas.

“Because of our participants, those who are incarcerated will know that people who don’t even know them care about them and are holding them in prayer,” said Schneider.  “This is such an important message during the Christmas season, when many are feeling especially isolated and alone. Thank you!”