On a Fall Friday night in November, families of Shiloh UMC in Goshen (Louisville District) came together for an evening of Food, Fellowship and Fun. After a light meal, they got to work decorating Christmas stockings, which had previously been cut out from a standard pattern. The Christmas Stocking Project is a joint effort supporting the prison ministries of Evangel World Prayer Center. Over 50 organizations and churches of different denominations are involved in making, filling, and giving stockings to children of inmates who are imprisoned and jailed in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. In 2009, 52 facilities (prisons, jails, youth centers) were supplied with stockings.
This ministry was begun in 1983; Shiloh has participated since the early 1990’s. Then a few women sewed and decorated about 60 stockings. Now, as families are involved, we submit around 150. When we first joined the effort, around 500 stockings were needed. As word has spread throughout the prison system, the need is around 10,000—a goal that is not met.
The stockings will include a Christian coloring book, crayons, small toys, candy, snack crackers/chips, and any other permissible item that can be obtained. There will be hats and gloves in as many as possible—plus a child-friendly Bible. Funds to purchase these items are raised from donations and fund-raisers such as their Annual Tea.
Christmas holiday visits to a parent in jail can be traumatic, and these stockings help to make that time happier and less tense. These stockings are a gift from the parent—something the children can hold on to and cherish. And in some cases, they may be the only gift a child receives. The chaplains say that this project is a tremendous blessing to all—the inmates, families and the chaplains themselves! And it is a joy to all of us who help. For more information, see www.evangelprisonministries.org.
Susan Jinnett-Sack, pastor, Shiloh UMC