Notable inmate ministry Prison Fellowship will be showing their annual Easter Hope event online in at least 20 states, making it available to more inmates than ever before.
Every year since the early days of Prison Fellowship, the late Chuck Colson, the organization's founder, held an Easter celebration event at prisons in one of the 50 states.
But due to coronavirus concerns and state lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus, Prison Fellowship had to cancel their in-person Easter Hope event, scheduled to take place in Georgia.
In response to the shutdown, the ministry produced an Easter celebration video featuring music, personal testimonies, and an altar call that will air in prisons across the nation.
James Ackerman, president of Prison Fellowship, told The Christian Post that unlike past years, when they focused on one state, Easter 2020 will have “a broader reach” in states ranging from “California to Georgia.”
“It is amazing to me that the doors the Lord is opening for Prison Fellowship at a time when the gates of the prisons are closed,” said Ackerman.
“We want people to see that everyone has value in God’s eyes and even if you find yourself in a place like prison, even today, this weekend, Easter Sunday can be a point of new beginning for you when you step into a new beginning and step into the purpose and plan that God has always had for your life.”
Ackerman also told CP that his ministry is open to continuing to do online Easter Hope events each year, in conjunction with an expected return to in-person events focused on a given state.
The means through which this was being handled was a video portal platform that Prison Fellowship launched earlier this month called Floodlight.
“It provides all kinds of inspirational videos about people who have been transformed through Jesus and stepped into healthy new beginnings and are living successfully outside of prison now. It has content to celebrate recovery,” he continued.
“Floodlight is a really, really innovative approach that, again, the Lord has opened a door for us to be able to take content, teaching content, ministry content, inspirational content, and provide it to men and women in prison.”
Ackerman gave the example of California, which is one of the states that has signed up for the recently launched Floodlight platform.
“In California, all but four of California’s prisons have an internal television network. California is now able to distribute all of this content through their internal network to almost all of their prisons,” explained Ackerman. “And that happened only this last week.”
Due to efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, large numbers of churches have had to cancel in-person worship services and offer online alternatives.
According to a study by the Barna Group, 58 percent of surveyed pastors said they plan to hold a digital service for Easter, either via livestream or a prerecorded message sent out to congregants.