Prison Fellowship® believes that taking a restorative approach towards prisoners, former prisoners, and all those affected by crime and incarceration can make communities safer and healthier.
Prison Fellowship is founded on the conviction that no life is beyond restoration and redemption. Those who once broke the law can be transformed and mobilized to serve their neighbors, replacing the cycle of crime with a cycle of renewal. As God empowers and calls, we will be used by Him to bring restoration to those affected by crime and incarceration and to the communities that surround them in five main ways:
We live out our mission by serving and equipping the Church
to fulfill the Great Commission among prisoners, ex-prisoners and their
families and advocating for the reform of the justice system so that communities
will be safer, victims are respected and offenders are transformed. We
implement proven, research-backed programs that address crime at its root – the
human heart – believing in the power of the Gospel to transform lives from the
This past year, Angel Tree served 289, 994 prisoners by providing a gift, a
personal message and the Gospel to their 330, 663 children. We registered 7,698
participating churches and organizations who served 327, 614 of the children. Additionally, 5,706 children of prisoners
attended an Angel Tree camp with Prison Fellowship scholarship.
Currently, we reach approximately 375,000 prisoners each year through Prison Fellowship programming. Last year, Prison Fellowship hosted over 200 evangelism events that had over 23,000 attendees. There are 1,088 prisoners currently participating in seminary-level classes and more than 53,000 Bibles were distributed. Most importantly, we saw over 4,800 prisoners dedicate their lives to Christ!
This year we are excited for the implementation of our expanded Warden Exchange and new Second Prison Project programs. The Warden Exchange newest innovative program uses web-based classes that focus on the opportunity for prison wardens to influence the culture of their prisons. The Second Prison Project has been launched to serve and engage those with criminal records—a potential audience of more than 65 million people.
Additionally, Prison Fellowship and the Denver Seminary are teaming to develop the “Spiritual and Character Formation” Certificate Program. The program is designed to develop men serving long-term sentences to be prison culture changers, role models, and coaches for younger men with shorter sentences. We are also implementing two programs in Texas that will serve youth who are classified as adults in the judicial and corrections systems. The program will provide mentoring by churches to those who are being released and training on how to positively use their time in prison to those who are moving into the state corrections system.
The top three most pressing Prison Fellowship needs are:
Founded in 1976 by Charles W. Colson, Prison Fellowship (PF) is the largest prison outreach and criminal justice reform organization in the world. Its programs reach prisoners, ex-prisoners and families of prisoners in all 50 states. Prison Fellowship seeks to transform lives, minds and communities through Jesus Christ. Born out of the Watergate crisis, Prison Fellowship was founded after Colson’s life was changed forever when he accepted Christ as Savior. After his incarceration for a Watergate-related offense, Colson was moved to share with prisoners the very faith that sustained him during his incarceration. Within a few short years, Prison Fellowship had become the world’s largest Christian ministry to prisoners and their families. In the last 40 years we have expanded our influence through programs like Angel Tree, Justice Fellowship, Inside Journal, InterChange Freedom Initiative, and many more.
Amid a 25-year global career in
media and entertainment, Ackerman’s first exposure to Prison Fellowship in 2004
inspired him to serve long-term as a prison ministry volunteer with the
organization he will now lead. Ackerman has spent the last dozen years
volunteering with Prison Fellowship, leveraging his business experience to
teach prisoners important life skills, such as resume writing, job
interviewing, household budgeting and personal planning. He also spent 10 years
mentoring prisoners and former prisoners.
Ackerman and his wife, Martha, have also served as local coordinators for Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree. In addition, Ackerman graduated as part of the second annual class of the Centurions program (now called the Colson Fellows program), one of Charles Colson’s greatest legacies.
Ackerman has cultivated his specialty as a CEO who helps media companies like Documentary Channel, British Interactive Broadcasting, Broadway Systems and Open TV navigate periods of transition and growth. In 2005 Ackerman founded Spinnaker Media to develop innovative entertainment and digital media companies, and he will remain a general partner with that organization. He also previously held roles at British Sky Broadcasting, A&E Television Networks, Hearst Entertainment, International Family Entertainment and Grey Entertainment & Media.
He has served on the boards of several companies and nonprofit organizations, including Saving Innocence, which provides social services to underage girls rescued from sex trafficking, and the International Documentary Association. He was recently appointed chairman of the board for Stockholm-based Accedo, a global pioneer in video applications.
Ackerman is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, and he and Martha have two grown children. The couple reside in D.C.
Angel Tree Christmas is a Prison Fellowship program that connects parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. In most cases, local church volunteers purchase and deliver gifts and the Gospel to children in the name of their prisoner-parent.
Many churches make an annual commitment to this highly rewarding program, and recognize it as a way to care for some of the most overlooked members of our communities.
Angel Tree Camping
A good way to extend your Angel Tree ministry throughout the year is to arrange for prisoners' children to attend Christian summer camp.
The Prison Fellowship Seminary Level Training program is based on the Capstone Curriculum and has been described as a “seminary education without the Greek and Hebrew.” It is divided into 16 ten-week courses. The courses are facilitated by trained Prison Fellowship Certified volunteers. In addition to the standard in prison training, these volunteers complete online training on how to facilitate the Seminary Level Training program (e.g., class format, use of books, administration of tests). It can take up to four years to complete the curriculum depending on the prison.
Upon completion of all 16 courses, students receive a Certificate in Christian Leadership Studies. This credential allows certain church denominations to place recipients in a pastoral leadership position in a church, much like a Masters of Divinity from a seminary.
PF's pre-release training offers prisoners the opportunity
to prepare for successful reentry by providing them with a foundation of
Biblical life skills and preparation starting 12-18 months from release.
Prisoners who are 12-18 months from release must apply to be included in the
Ideally, a PF staff or a lead volunteer works closely with the chaplain to select and plan a year of courses to be offered in the reentry prison. PF certified volunteers deliver the curriculum according to the negotiated schedule.
PF's post-release reentry support is intended to provide a community based network that can come alongside the ex-offender upon release and provide a wide range of services and support to help ensure successful reentry.
Reentry support is not "programmatic" following a defined structure but rather establishes some key components that must be adapted to the specific community as well as the needs of the ex-offender
Our reentry support may include the following components: Community Reentry Team (CRT), Bridge Churches, Services and Mentors.
The Second Prison Project serves and engages those with criminal records—a potential audience of more than 65 million people. This demographic, often ignored, can be mobilized to share its time, talent, and treasure to educate the public on the impact of criminal justice policy, give a human face to our advocacy efforts, and ease the reintegration of men and women newly released from prison.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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