This Christmas, the Prison Ministry of the Rock Church is determined that children of imprisoned parents in San Diego will not be overlooked. Partnering with Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree, the ministry will provide gifts for children on behalf of the incarcerated parent at its Third Annual Angel Tree Christmas Party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 15, 2012, hosted at the Rock Church.
“Last year, over 100 children attended the party, and gifts were delivered to more than 100 who couldn’t attend,” said Charlene Autolino, Prison Ministry organizer. “This year, we’ll have activities, crafts, cookie decorating, a bag of goodies aside from Christmas gifts, Yahoo the clown, face painting and a jumper.”
Other Rock Church ministries will also participate to make the day special. Hope Sent ministry will help the kids make Christmas cards and Heavenly Hands ministry will donate jewelry to caregivers of children.
Statistics show that 2 out of 3 children of prisoners will follow their parent in a generational cycle of incarceration due to feelings of anger or abandonment. Some statistics show that they may be up to 7 times more likely than other children to end up in prison.
“It’s a natural circle,” explains Autolino. “When you’re involved in prison ministry it’s not just a person who’s incarcerated;
Senior pastor Miles McPherson said, “The Angel Tree program and our Annual Christmas Party is an attempt to break that cycle by showing the love of God and helping to strengthen or even restore the relationship between those children and their parents.”
Autolino added that their ministry also seeks to relieve the burden on caregivers – which is often overlooked -- as well.
“Many caregivers are grandparents and older siblings who don’t have guardianships and are faced with raising children with limited incomes of social security of public assistance,”
Organizers welcome gifts for their raffle, grocery cards and gas cards. To donate, contact Charlene Autolino at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 619-746-3299. The event is not open to the public. Children are chosen through Prison Fellowship Angel Tree program or through the Rock Prison Ministry.
Angel Tree, the Prison Fellowship program started by former bank robber Mary Kay Beard, is turning 30 this year. Through this unique program serving inmates’ children, more than 9 million children in the United States have received a gift on behalf of their incarcerated parent.
In the past three decades, the Angel Tree program has grown dramatically. It serves children in every state in the Union, and it has helped more than nine million children feel loved by an incarcerated parent at the holidays.
Interview with August Hunter, Prison Ministry Pastor
ABOUT THE ROCK
The Rock is San Diego’s largest church and the 4th largest church in the Southern California according to Outreach Magazine's 2012 "100 Largest Churches in America" report. It was started in 2000 by Pastor Miles McPherson, a former NFL player. Over 12,300 people attend the Rock's five Sunday services.
For more information go to http://www.sdrock.com