The Board of General Superintendents has officially endorsed Prison Fellowship and the Angel Tree program as a ministry partnership with the Church of the Nazarene.
Angel Tree is a program of Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. It is also the only nationwide, year-round effort that reaches out exclusively to children who have a parent in prison.
More than 1.7 million children in the U.S. will have a parent in prison this Christmas. These children often have behavior and performance problems at school, and can experience social stigma and shame. Keeping them connected to their parent lowers the likelihood of recidivism for the parent and encourages parent-child bonding, which helps to break the intergenerational cycle of crime.
While Prison Fellowship works to reconcile prisoners and ex-prisoners to their families, communities, and God, the Angel Tree program addresses the need every child has — the need to feel loved by mom and dad.
Prisoners can register their children to participate in the program and churches register to participate in Angel Tree and indicate the preferred areas they will serve. Children are assigned to the church based on the child location and number of children requested. Then volunteers at local churches across the U.S. purchase and deliver gifts in a variety of ways and present the gospel message to children in the name of their imprisoned parent.
The Church of the Nazarene’s USA/Canada Region seeks to increase congregational participation from 130 churches in 2011 to 500 in 2012. To find out how to get involved, visit www.AngelTree.org or call 1-800-55-ANGEL (1-800-552-6435).
Churches already involved in Angel Tree are encouraged to continue their involvement in this ministry and consider becoming involved in prison ministries throughout the year. Prison Fellowship has numerous methods and opportunities to become more involved. Whether a church wants to mentor a prisoner, volunteer for an event, or minister to those who are leaving prison, Prison Fellowship has the resources that can help. For more information, visit the Prison Fellowship website.
—Nazarene Compassionate Ministries USA/Canada