New York, March 4, 2021
The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) has distributed more than 2 million prayer cards and more than 1 million of its publications, including prayer books, catechisms, and more, to Orthodox and spiritually-seeking prisoners throughout its many years of service.
And while prisons have been on lockdown throughout the ongoing pandemic, OCPM’s ministry has continued as strong as ever. “The impact through the year was immense during this time when OCPM was largely the only outside contact for thousands of hundreds of prisoners,” according to the ministry’s 2020 activity report.
This contact included thousands of letters, icons, Bibles, and other spiritual literature:
Mail and replies sent: 16,384
Packages of spiritual materials sent: 871
Catechism study guides sent: 390
Icons sent: 10,978
Postcards/weekly letter sent: 13,773
Bibles and books sent: 1,252
“Thanks for writing me; it makes me feel good, because I pray to God to show me if He is listening to me. And I know that He does because your letters show me that,” one prisoner responded.
OCPM defines its mission as “Shar[ing] the love of Christ and His Church with those who are incarcerated and their families so that lives are transformed and God is glorified,” and “Serv[ing] those who are incarcerated and their families, and provid[ing] resources, training and support to our ministry partners.”
“We celebrate the fact that eternal life and hope are available to all people due to Christ’s birth and ultimate sacrifice. We also celebrate the fact that as a Church we are able to bring this hope to those who are incarcerated and their families no matter the difficulties placed before us,” reads the 2020 report.
OCPM was founded in 1991 by Fr. Duane Pederson as a ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, later becoming an official ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops.
It ministers to nearly 1,000 men and women who have embraced the Orthodox faith, either through conversion or through finding their way back to the Church. Moreover, five men have been tonsured as Orthodox monks in prison, and several more have become iconographers.
For more information on the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, including how to get involved and how to support the ministry, see the OCPM site, and watch the video below in which Director of Training and Spiritual Care Fr. Stephen Powley shares the inspiring story of how he first got involved in prison ministry, and his several decades of serving, bringing the love of Christ to many.