prison fellowship

Image via RNS/Adelle M. Banks

A national prison ministry is joining forces with conservative and liberal groups to call on church leaders and politicians to give former prisoners a second chance at normal lives.

“We believe people with a past can rise from their failure, repay their debt, and restore and heal our communities that are affected by crime,” said Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of Prison Fellowship, as he launched the first “Second Chance Month.”

Image via Prison Fellowship/RNS.

Even among young evangelicals, more contemporary religious thinkers — Karen Swallow Prior or Rachel Held Evans — might be viewed as more accessible. But Colson’s intense activism, which supporters contend advocated issues and not political parties, seems to appeal to some in a generation seeking a course correction from the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. That activism found its first expression in the ministry that became Prison Fellowship. Though Colson’s time in jail was relatively brief, he was moved by the experience and by those of the men he met behind bars.

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Prison Fellowship founder and former Nixon aide Chuck Colson was memorialized Wednesday (May 16) at Washington National Cathedral in a service steeped in Scripture and prayers about prison and redemption.

Colson, who died April 21 at the age of 80 after a brief illness, was known as Nixon's "hatchet man" and served seven months in prison on Watergate-related charges. But at the 90-minute service, he was recalled as a transformed "friend of sinners."

“Chuck was not perfect, but he was forgiven,” said the Rev. Timothy George, the homilist and dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.

Duane Shank 4-24-2012
The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Charles Colson, former aide to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, passed away Saturday at the age of 80. His death came as a result of complications of a brain hemorrhage. 

Many news stories this weekend emphasized Colson’s role in the Watergate scandal of the mid-1970s, in which he led Nixon’s efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg following the release of the Pentagon Papers on U.S. decision making during the Vietnam war. As a result of those activities, he pled guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months in prison. Shortly before going to prison, Colson had a religious conversion to Christianity. And that led to the more important part of his life.

We are both evangelical Christians who believe that our treatment of the poor, weak, and most vulnerable is how a society is best biblically measured.
Mary Nelson 2-04-2009
Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, died yesterday.

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