Dec 07, 2022

A heart-to-heart ministry

Eastern PA Conference members and churches again reached out to incarcerated persons with caring messages of encouragement penned on signed Christmas cards.  And again, we went the second mile by also donating unsigned cards that inmates can use to send Christmas messages to their families and friends—literally, a gift that keeps on giving.

EPA’s Prison Ministries & Restorative Justice Team vetted and then delivered 6,960 cards to 12 correctional facilities in our region, providing Christmas greetings for chaplains to distribute to incarcerated people.

(From left) The Revs. Marilyn Schneider and Carmelo Urena

At least three chaplains told the team “how much those incarcerated in their facilities really look forward to and appreciate receiving these cards,” said the Rev. Marilyn Schneider, team leader.  “For some individuals it was the only card they received.”

In addition, 3,187 unused cards were delivered this week to the head chaplain of Philadelphia’s prison system. The Rev. Carmelo Urena requested them to enable many of the 6,000 persons housed there to send greetings to their family and friends.

“We’re thankful to all those who participated again in this important, heart-to-heart ministry,” said Schneider. “Everyone’s participation makes a difference and is greatly appreciated.”

The team’s next outreach encore will be its annual Healing Communities training, to be held in three sessions via Zoom: Jan. 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and Feb. 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Two hours of pre-class work is required in addition to the eight online class hours to receive 10 CEU credits. Cost: $15. Register by Jan. 15. 

The training provides information and perspectives on the criminal justice system and its impact on victims, survivors, offenders and their families. Church leaders will gain ideas and develop action plans to engage congregants in fostering ministries of hope, healing and reconciliation. Learn more and registerSave & share the flyer.