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Prison Fellowship Ministries Records

Identifier: CN 274

Brief Description

Correspondence, memos, reports, newspaper clippings and other documents describing the founding and development of Prison Fellowship. Among the subjects covered in the files are the part played in the organization by Charles Colson, the realities of prison ministry, the conditions of prisons in the United States, relations between organizations involved in prison ministries, the testimonies of inmates, and the relationship between PFM and its constituents.  Persons featured included those significant in Colson's life and spiritual development.  Also documented is the production of the commercially-released motion picture, BORN AGAIN, based on Colson's book by the same title.


  • Created: 1961, 1975-1989, 1990, undated


Conditions Governing Access

The following are closed until January 1, 2044:

  • Folders 4-5,6
  • 13-7
  • 14-3
  • 16-3,4
  • 21-3
  • 27-46,50
  • 28-17,19,25,58
  • 143-22
  • 144-3
  • 179-1
  • Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

    Organizational History

    Evangelical agency ministering to prisoners; founded in 1976 by presidential advisor and convict Charles Colson; major activities of the organization included preaching the Gospel to prisoners, providing nuture and fellowship for Christian prisoners, counseling prisoners families and lobbying to prison reform.

    Founded: the organization was formally founded in August 1976, but seminars and Bible studies for the encouragement and training of prisoners who were Christians had been already held in 1975.

    Location of headquarters: For a brief time, PF operated out of the offices of the Fellowship Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, but soon acquired its own building. The United States organization has always been based in the Washington, DC, area. In 2000, its headquarters was in the Washington suburb of Reston, Virginia.

    Ministry speciality or emphasis: Prison Fellowship worked to provide Christian support and nurture to prisoners, their families, and victims of crime. It was also concerned that the criminal justice system be fair and efficient. Christian volunteers in nearby communities were organized to visit prisons and jails regularly to witness to prisoners and encourage Christian inmates. Educational seminars (some held in prison, others at PF headquarters in Washington, DC) were conducted to train prisoners in how to lead Bible studies and share their faith. There were also programs for the families of prisoners, including Angel Tree, which distributes gifts at Christmastime to the children of inmates in the name of the incarcerated parent. Justice Fellowship, a non-profit foundation that grew out of PF, investigated issues related to criminal justice reform and lobbied at the state and national level for legislation. Other activities included pre-release counseling, assistance after release from prison (including family counseling), prison ministry project development and publishing, and working for criminal justice reform.

    Significant events in organizational history:

  • 1973. Charles W. Colson, special assistant to President Richard Nixon, committed his life to Christ (August)
  • 1974. Colson, who had been meeting with a Christian support group including Congressmen Albert Quie, Senator Harold Hughes, and Douglas Coe of Fellowship Foundation, believed that he should plead guilty to on the charges for which the Watergate grand jury indicted him. On June 21 he was sentenced to one to three years and on July 8 began his service at Fort Holabird prison in Maryland
  • 1975. Colson freed (January); first Washington seminar to train Christian inmates in living the Christian life (November)
  • 1976. Charles Colson's book Born Again published (February); Prison Fellowship formally organized (August); Gordon Loux was executive vice president and Fred Rhodes was chairman of the board of trustees
  • 1977. PF invited to supervise chaplains in selected prisons; Bill Beshears became first PF chaplain in a prison in Memphis, Tennessee; First in-prison seminar held at a facility in Oxford, Wisconsin (April)
  • 1978. Divisions of field ministries and training started; PF organization started in Great Britain through the help of Colson and PF staff; first wilderness seminar held (June)
  • 1979. Prison Fellowship International started to help coordinate the activities of PF ministries in different countries. By 2000 there were eighty-three national organizations. Each country sends three representatives to the council which controls Prison Fellowship International
  • 1982. Project Angel Tree program (involving local churches and other grounds in helping to distribute Christmas gifts to the children of prisoners) begun with one project held in Birmingham, Alabama
  • 1983. Justice Fellowship founded to study and lobby for reform in the criminal justice system and to involve people at a grass roots level in the process
  • 1984. Fellowship Communication formed to produce the newsletters, manuals and other publications of PF
  • 1987. PF opened it new headquarters in Reston Virginia (February); the estate house on the property, named for Arthur S. DeMoss, was already being used as a reception and training center
  • 1989. Neighbors Who Care founded to help create community support for the victims of crime
  • 1990. Prison Fellowship ministry begun in Russia
  • Extent

    94.75 Linear Feet (192 document cases; Oversize Materials, Photo Albums, Photographs, Slides, Video Tape)

    Language of Materials


    Arrangement and Description

    The Prison Fellowship Ministries collection consists of the files of the organization and includes correspondence, memos, reports, manuals, budgets, statistics, publicity materials, applications, reference materials, photographs, and photo albums (the last two being described in their own location records). The documents tell the story of the origins of the ministry and its development up until the late 1980s, including the creation of a nationwide organization, the growth of affiliated ministries in other countries, the United States PF programs for witnessing to the gospel in prisons and nurturing the Christian growth of prisoners, the organization of local volunteers, the growth of leadership and Bible study training programs, the development of programs for prisoners’ families and the work of Justice Fellowship, which was created to lobby for reform in the criminal justice system. Besides documenting the actual ministry of Prison Fellowship, the records illustrate its function as an organization, including activities such as training, evaluation of programs, public relations, fund raising, and the building of physical facilities. The records also contain much information on prison ministry in general and on criminal justice in the United States and the workings of the jail and prison system.

    The files are arranged in the order in which they were received, as the archivist was able to determine it. The collection consists of seven series, some of which are further divided into subseries as follows:

    Historical files: 1) Born Again files; 2) Prison Fellowship files

  • Executive officers: 1) Charles Colson: General; 2) Liaison files; 3) Gordon Loux
  • Field Offices: 1) Regional Operation reports; 2) State files; 3) Regional and State Directors’ files
  • Training and Development: 1) Vice President files; 2) Training materials; 3) In-Prison Seminar files; 4) Washington DC Seminar files; 5) Crisis of Incarceration Marriage files; 6) Community Service Projects files
  • Public Relations
  • Reference
  • Justice Fellowship: 1) Administrative Files; 2) Restorative Justice Handbooks
  • Series: Historical Records

    Arrangement:Two subseries:

  • Born Again files
  • Prison Fellowship files
  • These are described in more detail in the subseries descriptions below.

    Date Range: 1975-1982

    Volume: 10.25 linear feet

    Boxes: 1-22

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Subjects: Reception of Colson's book, Born Again; production and distribution and reception of the Born Again film; the beginnings and early development of Prison Fellowship Ministries

    Notes: The material in this series describes the early years of Prison Fellowship, its developing relationships with prisons, government officials, Christian organizations, other prison ministries and the attempts of the staff to define and refine the organizations goals and methods. A significant part of the collection relates to the production and promotion of Colson's book Born Again and the movie that was based on it. The arrangement of the materials was provided by the archivist. The collection is in two subseries. The first occupies boxes 1-8 and most of box 9, and contains the material about the book and the film Born Again and its premieres in different cities which were arranged for publicity and fund raising. The second is in boxes 9-22 and consists of PF office files.

    Subseries: Historical Records | Born Again files

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

    Date Range: 1975-1980

    Volume: 4.15 linear feet

    Boxes: 1-9

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Movie scripts, reviews, correspondence, newspaper clippings, mailing lists, form letters

    Subjects: The Born Again book and film, reviews of the same, the use of the premiere for the film to raise money for Prison Fellowship

    Notes: The folders in box 1 deal mainly with the book version of Colson's autobiography, primarily with the ways the book was promoted and the responses it evoked. There is information on tour schedules, advertising plans, notes on dedication, captions for photos. The rest of the files in boxes 2 through 9 relate to the Avco Embassy company film based on the book. Folders 5-2 through 6-1 contain drafts of the script, showing additions and deletions. Folder 4-7 contains the packet sent to the press about the movie, with information on Colson, the actors, and the production staff. Almost all the rest of the material relates to the series of premieres across the country which were held for the film in 1978. These premieres were used as a means to raise funds and volunteers for Prison Fellowship. Folder 3-27 contains a manual outlining how to plan a premiere. Some of the form letters used to invite people to the occasion or to recruit hosts and other participants can be found in folders 3-22,24,26, 4-4, and 6-2,4. Folders 6-5 to 9-7 contain information on the premieres in specific cities, listing the hosts, volunteers, location, budget, etc. Reviews of the film and a few of the book are arranged geographically according to the location of the publication publishing the review in folders 2-4 through 3-21. (Folder 11-3 contains a critique of the film by a PF staff member). Folder 2-22 contains a few foreign reviews and folder 2-13 some domestic ones. In a few cases, retreats were held before the premiere for staff to help plan events. Some of these meetings are documented in folders 9-4,5,6. Additional material on the film, particularly the partnership agreements that helped finance it, can be found in boxes 52 and 53.

    Subseries: Historical Records | Prison Fellowship files

    Arrangement: The files for each year are together and are arranged alphabetically. In cases where a file covers more than one year, the last year covered by the file determined where it was placed.

    Date Range: 1976-1982

    Volume: 6.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 9-22

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Inter-office memos, correspondence, minutes of meetings, reports, manuals, personnel files, financial records, manuals

    Subjects: The documents in this section are mainly to or from a few of the top leaders at PF such as Colson, Loux, Veerman, etc. They relate to the development and change of PF over the years, the activities of Chuck Colson, reports on PF activities, the situation in American prisons and lobbying efforts for prison and criminal justice reform, PF's relationship to its constituency, and PF's relationship with other Christian organizations. Material relating to these various topics can be found in virtually every folder in boxes 10 through 22.

    Notes: When Prison Fellowship first began in 1976, the staff's experience was limited to holding a seminar for prisoners in Washington, but other activities it might undertake were undetermined, as was the best permanent structure of the organization. Folder 10-12 has some of the early PF organization charts as well as several drafts of the goals of the organization. Folders 12-2,3 also contain statements of goals as well as a personnel manual, an operating manual and lists of long range and short range goals. Also in folder 12-3 is an interesting foundation questionnaire with information on PF's structure, goals, and methods. Folder 12-5 has the script for an audiovisual presentation made in 1977 called Somebody Cares. This program describes what it is like to be a prisoner, the realities of prison ministry, and PF's methods and goals at that time. Also in the folder, as background material for the script, are the transcripts of several prisoners' testimonies. The finished video, V1 in this collection, is described elsewhere in this record. Folder 12-1 has another operations manual draft, with information on how to organize an inmates seminar, public relations, position descriptions, and PF's table of organization at the time. What is apparently the final version of the manual can be found in folder 22-2. When PF attempted to buy a church property to use as its headquarters, it met opposition from the local community which did not want a prison ministry in their neighborhood. Folder 14-4 contains material describing the dispute, along with more information on PF's mission and methods. Folder 21-1 contains a notebook kept by Paul Kramer with copies of reports about prisoner seminars, the development of Prison Fellowship goals and methods, the chaplaincy program, and other projects.

    Folders 9-8,9 contain clippings from various newspapers around the country reporting on early PF activities and documenting the public's reaction to them. The files on the dedication of the organization's new offices (Folders 17-7,8) contain lists of those invited to the ceremonies, and give some idea of who the supporters of PF were, as well as the people it wished to influence. The folders of the executive vice-president are an especially good source to trace PF's development and its many activities.

    The development of policies in a variety of areas can be traced through materials in these folders: relations with the news media (Folders 11-1, 13-8, 17-11, 18-6), publicity (Folders 13-8, 14-1,2, 17-9,11), fund-raising (Folders 13-8,9, 16-6,7), computerizing the work of the organization (Folders 13-8, 17-6, 10-1 to 10-10, and 12-6 to 13-6), and the use of volunteers (Folders 12-1,2, 18-8, 19-1,3).

    Several folders contain analysis of potential PF staff or volunteers, such as Folders 11-1,3, and 13-9. Jesse Ellis in a letter in folder 10-11 writes about the need for more African American staff, while Folder 19-1 has information on plans for recruiting Hispanic workers.

    There is a little bit in the collection about the international aspects of Prison Fellowship. The possibility of developing prison ministries in other countries is discussed in folder 14-2. Folder 11-3 has a memo on the opportunity to begin some work in Canada.

    PF's first program was the Washington Seminar, during which inmates would come to the nation's capital for training, fellowship, encouragement, and prayer. Folder 18-2 contains a great deal of correspondence and other documents which show how a typical seminar was planned, the kind of details that had to be taken care of, the coordination necessary with the individual prisons that the attendees came from, and the stress laid on the necessity of having separate seminars for men and women. Folder 17-2 has follow-up information on some of the people who attended the first seminars. Folder 22-1 has reports on some early seminars.

    Eventually PF began holding seminars in prisons which included worship. This collection contains numerous reports about the outcomes of specific meetings, such as the one held at the Alderson Prison for women in West Virginia (Folders 12-2, 22-12). Additional reports can be found, among other places, in folders 11-3, 19-1,3, and 21-6. PF's investigation of the possibility of starting halfway houses for parolees is described in Folders 14-2,5 and 19-1.

    One activity that PF considered early in its history was the supplying of chaplains for prisons. Folder 12-3 has a memo on the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. PF did begin to supply chaplains for the federal prison in Memphis, and Folders 10-11 and 20-3 contain reports on how this worked and plans for future use of chaplains. See also folder 22-1.

    Very early in its history, PF developed a system of regional directors who were responsible for the organization's activities (recruitment of volunteers, visiting prisons, holding seminars, etc.) in their geographical area. Several folders document the typical activities of these men and women, and the ups and downs of their relationships with both the prison system and PF's national headquarters (see Folders 11-1, 13-9, 18-8, 19-3).

    Because Colson was the founder and first president of PF as well as its most prominent speaker and writer, much of the information in the files deals with his activities. Letters and memos about the best way Colson could use his time and energy for PF can be found in almost every folder. Memos in Folder 11-1, for example, describe his contacts with various national leaders. Folder 10-12 has information on promotion tours he undertook for his book Life Sentence, and reports on visits to PF supporters and to prisons in Michigan, Montana, and Washington State. Folder 19-2 has suggestions on possible interviews for Colson and areas where he should get involved. Folders 10-12, 14-2, 16-6,7, and 17-11, among others, have memos from Colson aides such as Mike Cromartie, David Bovenizer, and David Eno on possible speaking engagements. Folder 11-2 contains reports from Colson on some of his trips. Folder 17-11 includes notes discussing the possibility of Colson appearing on the Joe Franklin television show with Richard Nixon. Folder 17-3 contains some notes on possible responses by Colson to questions from reporters about comments by Colson in Gordon Liddy's autobiography. A memo in folder 18-9 concerns Colson's attitude toward honorary degrees and a description of his own academic career.

    Inevitably, reports by PF staff on seminars they led in different prisons also included comments on the facilities, inmates, staff, and morale of each institution. Throughout the folders are candid comments about prisons, wardens, guards, and chaplains. Folder 11-3 contains descriptions of PF's relations with various chaplains and prison officials around the country and the efforts to begin programs in certain institutions. Similar reports on specific institutions or individual prisoners in Tennessee, Michigan, Montana, Washington State, and New Mexico are in Folders 10-11, 10-12, and 14-2. Other reports are in Folders 13-7, 13-9, 18-2, 19-1, 19-3. Folder 11-3 has a report on the planning of a retreat for chaplains. There are also many memos about the prison systems in various states or nationwide. Folder 12-2 has an analysis made at the start of PF's ministry of the needs of prisoners, guards, the local community, etc. Folder 10-12 includes a discussion of Texas jails, a report on prison riots in Illinois in 1978, and a discussion of the U.S. prison systems. A report on a riot in a New Mexico prison can be found in Folder 17-8. Other reports on crime and justice in America are in Folders 14-2 and 16-6,7. PF's involvement in prison reform, including the possibilities of lobbying for legislation, can be traced in reports and notes in folders 10-12, 13-8, 14-2,5, 16-6,7, 18-7, and 20-2. Daniel Van Ness wrote several of the memos in Folder 18-7 on prison reform. Folder 10-12 also has a memo on PF's stand on capital punishment, and Folder 17-9 a report on racism and discrimination in the United States. Folder 14-2 also has some notes on the involvement of the Christian in politics and Folder 20-11 has a report on how increasing demands for tax cuts could affect the prison system.

    Prison Fellowship had a variety of constituencies: prisoners and their families, volunteers, financial donors (including foundations), and churches. The computer generated correspondence in Folders 10-1 to 10-10 and 12-6 to 13-6 contains form letters sent to various groups for various purposes. There are letters by Colson, Veerman, Loux and PF's regional directors inviting people to seminars, keeping them in touch with PF, thank you notes, letters to inmates involved in PF's work, etc. Other material relating to constituents include: Loux's meetings with donors (Folder 10-12); discussion of appreciation gifts that could be given to large donors (Folder 11-1); a volunteers manual (Folder 12-2); the script of the program Somebody Cares which was intended to explain PF's work; case histories of individual prisoners (Folder 13-7); policy statement on mass mailings (folder 17-9); reports on inmates who had attended the Washington seminars (Folder 18-2); reports about recruiting volunteers and developing a Hispanic ministry (Folder 19-1); guidelines for working with volunteers (Folder 19-3); and reports on foundations (Folder 19-5). Throughout the files are testimonies of prisoners describing how they became Christians and their growth in the Christian life. Folders 14-1,2 contains the correspondence of the editor of Jubilee, which was the organization's newsletter and went out to all its supporters.

    Besides prison chaplains, there were numerous Christian organizations involved mainly or partially in prison ministry and there is much correspondence about how to cooperate and co-exist with these. Reports on the work of other prison ministries can be found throughout the collection. For example, folders 11-1,3, and 19-3 contain information on other ministries. Folder 13-7 has information on Hispanic ministries. There are also reports on PF's relationships with other Christian organizations not involved directly in prison work. Folder 18-6 has a copy of Colson's testimony at the 1981 Billy Graham Baltimore crusade and Folder 11-1 has additional information on relations with the BGEA. There are reports on contacts with many other Christian organizations and leaders such as Christianity Today, Inc. (Folder 18-6), Jerry Falwell (Folder 18-6), John Perkins (Folder 13-8), the PTL Club (Folders 18-6, 19-2), Francis Schaeffer (Folder 13-8), C. Davis Weyerhauser (Folder 17-11), and the editors of the Wittenburg Door magazine (Folder 13-8).

    Series: Executive Officers

    Arrangement: Two subseries, described in more detail below:

  • the files of Charles Colson
  • the files of Gordon Loux

  • Date Range: 1965-1989 (only one item from 1965, the rest 1974 or later)

    Volume: 20.5 linear feet

    Boxes: 23-63

    Geographic coverage: Mainly the United States, with a few documents relating to other countries

    Subjects: Prison Fellowship, Justice Fellowship, criminal justice in the United States, volunteers, the spiritual and social needs of prisoners and their families, and Christian social action

    Notes: This series consists of the files of the chief executive officers of Prison Fellowship - its president, executive vice president, etc.

    Subseries: Executive Officers | Charles W. Colson | General

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by key word in folder titles

    Date Range: 1979-1989

    Volume: 2.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 23-27

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Memos, clippings, reports, correspondence, schedules

    Correspondents: Prison Fellowship staff, leaders of Christian organizations, prominent politicians (particularly Republicans) of both parties, and supporters of Prison Fellowship

    Subjects: Setting of policy for PF and a critique of the way its programs were implemented; discussion of the organization’s needs and personnel; the criminal justice system and the need for a greater application of Christian values in it as well as the larger society; the meaning of living one’s Christian faith in the world; the Republican Party; the Watergate crisis and the resignation of President Richard Nixon; responses to critiques of his articles and speeches

    Notes: These records are a somewhat miscellaneous set of folders that relate mainly to Colson’s activities as leader of Prison Fellowship. Several boxes of files, not as directly related to PF are more concerned with his writing and speeches on the Christian faith and Christianity and culture, are in his personal papers in Collection 275. Because these two areas of his life are so interwoven, the dividing line between them as far as files are concerned is arbitrary and was established by the archivist.

    The development of Prison Fellowship’s programs and personnel are the main topic for several folders of memos from Colson to Loux in Box 23 from the years 1979 to 1982. They cover most aspects of the organization’s work from broad policy discussion to details of the day-to-day work. There are also in the same box several folders outlining Colson’s schedule during these early years of PF and readings on criminal justice. Folders 24-3 through 27-1 consist of what is called Colson’s Central Files for late-1988 and 1989 - his correspondence with supporters of Prison Fellowship, officials of the prison system, individuals with praise or criticism of him or Prison Fellowship, personal friends, political leaders and commentators. Usually Colson’s letter is stapled to the letter or letters to which he is responding. Usually the letters relate to the specific work or needs of PF or more generally to living the Christian life, the place of Christian values and beliefs in society, or the political, social or moral situation in the United States. These files are very like the liaison files described in the next subseries, except that they only contain Colson’s letters (and those of his correspondents), deal with somewhat broader topics, and are arranged chronologically instead of alphabetically by individual.

    Subseries: Executive Officers | Charles W. Colson | Liaison Files

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

    Date Range: 1965 (one document), 1974-1989

    Volume: 12.6 linear feet

    Boxes: 27-52

    Geographic coverage: The United States, some materials relating to other countries

    Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, reports, prison inmate records

    Correspondents: (This is only a sampling of the correspondents, intended to give an idea of type of people included) Akers, John; Anderson, John; Baker, James III; Barrows, Cliff; Beers, V. Gilbert; Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Boone, Pat; Bright, Bill; Bright, Vonette; Briscoe, Stuart; Bush, George; Campolo, Tony; Cash, Johnny; Chase, J. Richard; Christianity Today; Coe, Douglas; Crowell Trust; Crowley, Mary; DeMoss, Paul; Dent, Harry; Dobson, James; Dole, Elizabeth; Dornan, Robert; Eckerd, Jack; Engstrom, Ted; Eternity Magazine; Evans, Louis; Falwell, Jerry; Gacy, John Wayne; Graham, Ruth; Grose, Vernon; Grounds, Vernon; Halverson, Richard; Hatfield, Mark; Helm, Jesse; Hoekstra, Ray; Hughes, Harold; Johnson, Torrey; Jones, Dean; Kalmsbach, Herb; Kesler, Jay; Kemp, Jack; Knoedler, Gunther; Koch, Ed; Larson, Richard; Lindsell, Harold; Meese, Edward; Mims, Madeliene; Moody Bible Institute; Mooneyham, Stanley; Myra, Harold; Nixon, Richard M.; Ogilivie, Lloyd; Pannell, William; Peale, Norman; Perkins, John; Pew, J. Howard; Pippert, Wesley; Quie, Al; Rees, Paul; Rhodes, Fred; Robertson, Pat; Samenow, Stanton; Schuller, Robert; Schultz, George; Sider, Ron; Skinner, Tom; Smarto, Don; Sojourners Magazine; Sproul, R. C.; Swindoll, Charles R.; Thomas, Cal; Trobish, Ingrid; Veerman, Ralph; Volpe, John; Vulga, Norman; Warner, John; Wessner, Kenneth; Weyerhauser, C. Davis; Wiersbe, Warren; Wilson, George M.; Wolgumuth, Samuel; World Vision ; Wyrtzen, Jack; Zeoli, Billy; Zondervan Publishers

    Subjects: The activities, needs, and future plans of Prison Fellowship; the needs and concerns of prisoners and the efforts of individual prisoners for pardon or parole; Christianity in American society

    Notes: Files contain correspondence with financial supporters of PF and others actively involved in its ministry; Colson’s political friends and associates; former PF staff, government officials, especially those involved in prison administration on a state and federal level; leaders of other Christian organizations and groups. In many cases, the files contain correspondence from other PF staffers with the subject of the file and sometimes the file does not contain any correspondence from Colson himself. In general, the files represent people (or in a few cases organizations) that are significant to the work of Prison Fellowship and the efforts of Colson and the organization to stay in touch with them.

    Subseries: Executive Officers | Gordon Loux

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

    Date Range: 1976-1987

    Volume: 5.8 linear feet

    Boxes: 52-63

    Geographic coverage: United States, some material on trips to Australia, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sri Lanka

    Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, reports, budgets, minutes of meetings, manuals, budgets, newspaper clippings, address lists, statistics

    Correspondents: PF staff, consultants, fund raisers, construction companies, donors, leaders of Christian organizations

    Subjects: Reports and statistics on PF’s ministry, PF’s day-to-day operation and long range planning, fund-raising, new buildings (including headquarters buildings), development of PF International, the film Born Again, prison reform

    Notes: Loux as executive vice president and later president of PF was in effect the leader of the organization on the operational level and his files reflect this. In 1983, Prison Fellowship purchased the Bowman estate in Reston, Virginia, and over the next two years renovated the existing mansion on the estate to serve as a hospitality center (renamed the Arthur S. DeMoss House) and built an office building for the Fellowship. Loux’s files contain voluminous documentation on the negotiations for purchase of the property, the planning of the new buildings, the relations with neighbors, and the fund-raising efforts involved. Most of the files on this effort are in boxes 53 through 56. (See also Folder 148-4.) Other files reflect Loux’s responsibilities for the oversight, administration, and planning of the organization. Boxes 60 to 61 contain the memos he sent to senior staff on all aspects of Prison Fellowship’s ministry and box 58 includes his files of "Decision papers" memos on various proposed major and minor policy changes which were circulated to staff for their written comments. Both planning and application are reflected in Folder 57-8, which contains memos and other documents on PF’s planning to develop a computer system that would meet its need, as well as weekly reports on the introduction and activities of the system. The operations of Prison Fellowship in the 1980s and planned future development are reflected in the strategic plans, which can be found in box 61. Also of interest in this regard is the folder on reorganization of the Fellowship structure in box 61 and the file on the beginnings of Prison Fellowship International in box 61. The day-to-day operations are reflected in such materials as the field manual in box 59 and the weekly statistics and weekly reports from senior staff in boxes 62 and 63. Box 63 also contain reports, schedules, and other documents on Loux’s travel on behalf of the organization within the United States and internationally. He also represented the organization at the meetings of other Christian organizations, such as Consultation 83, A Christian Response to Human Need in Folder 58-7 (part of the Wheaton '83 congress) and the Lausanne Committee in Folder 59-8.

    Exceptional items:

  • Folder 59-1 contains a telegram from President Ronald Reagan endorsing Prison Fellowship’s work
  • There is an interesting evaluation of the in-prison seminars, apparently made by PF staff, in Folder 59-2
  • Folder 57- 5 contains an interesting folder on an evangelistic campaign PF held at a church in Virginia in 1983, an experiment that was apparently not followed up
  • Folder 63-12 contains material about William Shoemaker’s inauguration as director of the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College and there are other folders reflecting PF's connection with the BGC in Folders 63-14,15,16
  • Materials from the groundbreaking of PF’s office building and the dedication of the Arthur S. DeMoss House are in Folders 54-12
  • Series: Field Offices

    Arrangement: Three subseries

  • Regional Operation Reports
  • State Files
  • Regional and State Directors Files

  • Date Range: 1977-1988

    Volume: 25.5 linear feet

    Boxes: 64-111, 116-118

    Geographic coverage: United States, a few documents on Canada

    Subjects: Evangelism in prisons, Christian development seminars (at Washington DC and in prisons), community service projects, and gathering and distribution of gifts to the children of prisoners

    Subseries: Field Offices | Regional Operation Reports

    Arrangement: Chronologically; all the reports for a particular month are together in one folder.

    Date Range: 1978-1984 (most of the records are from 1983-1984)

    Volume: 1.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 64-66

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Statistical summaries, memos, descriptive reports on activities

    Notes: This subseries consists almost entirely of monthly reports from the regional directors (each region having responsibility for several states) to the national field director. Besides statistics on the number of visits to prisons and jails, programs, volunteers, etc., there are often very detailed descriptions about visits to various prisons and jails in their areas and the strengths and weaknesses of programs in different areas.

    Subseries: Field Offices | State Files

    Arrangement: Early files for 1976-1980 of Prison Fellowship are in boxes 66-70. These are arranged by region and then alphabetically by state within each region. Files on state programs after 1980 are in boxes 71 to 109, and are arranged by state.

    Date Range: 1976-1989

    Volume: 21.8 linear feet

    Boxes: 66-109

    Geographic coverage: United States, some material on Canada in box 70

    Type of documents: State publications of their prison system, reports, correspondence, memos, statistics, lists of volunteers

    Subjects: Evangelistic work and Christian nuture in individual prisons, the work of volunteers, the actual operation of PF programs in individual prisons, the practice of criminal justice, punishment, and parole in individual states

    Notes: These are the files that Prison Fellowship kept on their various programs in particular states. Mostly the files document PF’s work in specific prisons (with one or more folders for a prison). Types of activities could include evangelistic meetings, seminars on Christian living and Bible studies held in prison, the selection of inmates to attend leadership development seminars at the Washington office of Prison Fellowship, visitation programs by local Christian volunteers, and the distribution of toys to the the children of prisoners in the the name of their incarcerated parent (the Angel Tree program). For most of the states, there are first a folder with general information, then folders with clippings, newsletters and correspondence about prison conditions in the state and PF activities, then reports and other records delaing with PF’s work in specific federal, state and local prisons, including in some cases evaluates by prisoners and others of seminars held in the prison. Also in the files are materials relating to PF state directors and committees in various cities as well as the regional director’s and Charles Colson’s visits to various facilities. Often for a particular state there are files of state publications and newsletters on sentencing policy, correctional facilities, prison population.

    Exceptional Items: There are several files in boxes 69 and 70 on Prison Fellowship’s national conferences, and on participation in government programs and conferences, as well as a slim folder on work in Canada. Box 104 includes two folders of prison populations statistics for adult and youth offenders in Virginia.

    Subseries: Field Offices | Regional and State Directors’ files

    Arrangement: Topically, by a system apparently developed in PF for regional directors’ files

    Date Range: 1979-1987

    Volume: 2.6 linear feet

    Boxes: 109-111, 116-118

    Geographic coverage: The Southeast region of the United States, Texas

    Type of documents: Correspondence, goals, reports, budgets, inmate applicants for various Prison Fellowship projects

    Subjects: The implementation and development of PF’s programs in the Southeast region of the United States and in Texas

    Notes: The collection only has the files of the Southeast Regional Director, Tom Metts, Jr., (Boxes 109-111) and the Texas state Director (Boxes 116-118). Metts’ files consist of correspondence with the national director, supporters, volunteers, and with the staff in various state and city programs and deals with long range planning and goals, critique of activities in various prisons, and correspondence with headquarters staff. There is much information on how PF set goals, administered programs, regulated its activities and staff. The Texas State Director’s files include correspondence with inmates about spiritual and physical concerns, applications from inmates for the Washington DC seminar, reports on the PF programs in various Texas federal and state prisons, the creation of Angel Tree, in-prison seminars, marriage seminars in the state, and reports of the Dallas and Fort Worth Care Committees (the volunteer organizations for PF activities in their communities). These boxes give a good idea of the activities of PF state programs.

    Series: Training and Development

    Subseries: There are six subseries, with more detailed description following in the subseries descriptions below. Subseries B-F were received in their current order; subseries A was created by the archivist to describe what appeared to be a group of files which were used together as a unit.

  • Vice President’s Files
  • Training Files
  • In Prison Seminar Files
  • Washington DC Seminar
  • Crisis of Incarceration Marriage Seminars Files
  • Community Service Project Files

  • Date Range: 1982-1988

    Volume: 16.05 linear feet

    Boxes: 112-115, 119-147

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Subjects: Prison Fellowship, prison ministry, volunteers, the prison system, criminal justice, prisoners’ families, training and leadership development

    Notes: This division of PF went by various names, including Program and Human Resource Development. Its purpose was to make sure that all staff and volunteers received adequate training for prison ministry and that programs were developed which could be replicated in communities across the country and were successful in terms of their purpose. These files have a great deal of information in particular about three PF projects: the in-prison seminars in which prisoners received training in Bible study and the Christian life; the Community Service Projects, in which prisoners and volunteers did useful work for the needy, such as refurbishing housing; and the Crisis in Incarceration Marriage Seminars.

    Subseries: Training and Development | Vice President files

    Arrangement: Chronological by year and month, reports for the entire year are at the end of each year. Box 115 contains some alphabetical files for 1984.

    Date Range: 1982-1984

    Volume: 2.0 linear feet

    Boxes: 112-115

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Correspondence, memos, training reports, statistics, surveys of prison ministry

    Subjects: The training of inmates and volunteers in Christian ministry of different types; the supervision and development of PF staff; evaluation of the impact of the various ministries of PF

    Notes: Alan Chambers was the vice president in charge of training and evaluation. This series consists almost entirely of his correspondence and memos dealing with recruitment of volunteers, training of staff and volunteers, and reports (including statistics) on the activities of PF in the various states and local communities.

    Exceptional items: Folder 115-11 contains a survey done by PF staff of Hispanic Americans involved in prison ministry in 1984.

    Subseries: Training and Development | Training Materials

    Arrangement: Field manual files in boxes 119-121 are arranged alphabetically by folder title; conference files in boxes 121-123 are arranged chronologically by date.

    Date Range: 1983-1987

    Volume: 2.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 119-123

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Manuals, memos, conference reports, notes, lists, forms

    Subjects: Description of PF’s major activities and internal procedures

    Notes: This subseries contains a mass of material gathered together to create a PF handbook for Prison Fellowship, and the files on their training conferences in 1985 and 1986. The handbook files include notes, reports and other information about PF various activities, describing both their purpose and methods. There is also some information on the ministries of other organizations. These were apparently gathered as possible models. There are files on such topics as Angel Tree (Christmas gifts for the children of inmates; also see Folder 149-1), food and housing ministries, fellowship support groups for prisoners and their families, the handbook given to inmates who attended the Washington DC Seminar, procedure manuals for in-prison seminars of Christians and a manual on training volunteers to work with prisoners, listening as a part of counseling, prayer letters, prison visitation, and writing to prisoners. There are also a few folders with materials about PF procedures on such things as mailings, transportation, etc. The conference or seminar files contain the handouts given at various PF seminars, as well as other items related to a particular conference, such as schedule, minutes, or evaluations. What is included for each meeting varies widely. There are folders for the training of new state directors and area directors, the DC seminars, meetings of regional volunteer and staff, and the training and honoring of volunteers.

    Exceptional items: Particularly interesting is the material in box 119, which contains staff evaluations in some detail of the in-prison seminars, Washington seminar, and volunteer and staff training programs. These provide a detailed and informed view of PF’s work, particularly in 1983.

    Subseries: Training and Development | In-Prison Seminar files

    Arrangement: Chronological, by the month of the seminar. All of the folders for seminars that occurred during a particular month are together, although they are not necessarily strictly in order by the day of the month.

    Date Range: 1986-1987

    Volume: 5.15 linear feet

    Boxes: 123-133

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Reports and evaluations of the individual seminars, documents dealing with the scheduling and planning of the seminars, lists of participants

    Correspondents: PF staff, volunteers, inmates

    Subjects: Staff and volunteers’ description of the seminar; expressions of the inmates’ reaction to the Christian gospel and the developing faith of those who were Christians

    Notes: This series consists entirely of folders reporting on in-prison Christian seminars held at state and federal correctional institutions throughout the United States. These meetings, in which volunteers from the local community, led by one or more persons experienced in prison ministry, were called in-prison seminars, and were intended to lead inmates to Jesus Christ as their Savior, and to help them learn how to lead a Christian life and lead other people to Christ. The seminars had titles such as "Loving others," "Prison survival," and "You are Somebody." Almost all folders contain evaluation forms for the seminars which give brief statistics on the event and a brief narrative giving an overall summary and highlighting the participation and reactions of the volunteers and the inmates.

    Subseries: Training and Development | Washington DC Seminar files

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

    Date Range: 1980-1986

    Volume: 1.2 linear feet

    Boxes: 134-136

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Applications, reports, budgets, correspondence, manual

    Subjects: Living the Christian life, the development of discipline, training of participants and hosts on the specifics of holding the seminars, the testimony of inmates to their Christian faith, evaluation of individual seminars

    Notes: The Washington Seminar was one of the first programs of Prison Fellowship. It involved bringing inmates to the DC area for Christian fellowship and training in how to develop their faith and disciple others. The records in this subseries continue the reports of the individual seminars started in Folders 17-2, 18-2, and 22-1, and describes both the various practical details of housing, budget and logistics, as well as evaluations of the effectiveness of the conferences. They also contain the training materials used in the seminar and those given to families who were the hosts of individual inmates.

    Exceptional items: The applications of inmates to attend the seminars (Folders 134-3,4,5,6) include very brief testimonies from prisoners as to what their Christian faith meant to them and the part it played in their lives.

    Subseries: Training and Development | Crisis of Incarceration Marriage Seminars Files (CIMS)

    Arrangement: Instructors’ folders (Boxes 136-137) arranged alphabetically; seminar files (Boxes 138-140) arranged roughly in chronological order by the date of the seminar

    Date Range: 1982-1988

    Volume: 2.5 linear feet

    Boxes: 136-141

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Reports on seminars, instructor applications, correspondence

    Subjects: Procedures and purposes of marriage seminars for prison inmates, brief descriptions of the problems and successes of individual seminars, biographical information on instructors

    Notes: Prison Fellowship organized seminars to help inmates and their spouses deal with the strain incarceration put on their marriages. Folders 136-9,10 contain a very little general information about these seminars. The rest of the folders are concerned with the volunteer couples who served as instructors for the seminars and with individual seminars. The instructors’ files generally include their applications and reports on the seminars they led. The files for individual seminars gives information on who attended, their response, and any necessary follow-up.

    Subseries: Training and Development | Community Service Projects (CSP)

    Arrangement: A few general files in Boxes 141 and 142 are alphabetical by title, the rest are in chronological order by the date of the CSP.

    Date Range: 1981-1988

    Volume: 3.1 linear feet

    Boxes: 141-147

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Reports, evaluations, correspondence, newspaper clippings

    Subjects: The history and impact of individual CSPs in communities around the United States; statistics on CSPs nationwide and evaluation of their effectiveness.

    Notes: Community Service Projects were programs organized by Prison Fellowship that allowed inmates to work on some project helpful to local communities. This usually involved refurbishing abandoned or dilapidated buildings so that they could be used again. The project were usually under the direction of a local host church. Boxes 141 and 142 contain some files from the PF central office on the organization and planning of CSPs nationwide. The rest of the files in Boxes 142 through 148 are about individual projects, almost all of which were in urban environments. Some folders contain only a few notes, others are thick with correspondence, lists of participants, evaluations by participating staff and volunteers, and local newspaper coverage of the project.

    Exceptional items: Folder 141-17 contains endorsements of community service projects from various government and community leaders.

    Series: Public Relations

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

    Date Range: 1975-1988

    Volume: 2.6 linear feet

    Boxes: 147-152

    Geographic coverage: United States. A little bit on PF ministries in other countries in Folder 147-8.

    Type of documents: Press releases, newspaper clippings, reports, budgets, media surveys, newsletters

    Subjects: All aspects of PF’s public ministry, including the Washington Seminars, in-prison seminars, Colson’s speeches and books, the dedication of the Arthur Demos house; evaluations of public perceptions of PF and plans for presenting the Fellowship in various media; the start of Justice Fellowship

    Notes: This series consists of materials on the planning and evaluation of PF’s public relations program as well as many press releases and newspaper clippings that describe specific PF activities on a local, regional, national and international level. Among the planning and evaluation materials are the budget in Folder 147-10, the plans for the 1986 fund-raising campaigns in Folder 146-11 (Folder 148-4 also contains many memos about fund raising and publicity for the building campaign), Folder 150-4 includes a report on the needs of PF’s public relations and recommendations for further development; surveys of media coverage of the organization in Folder 149-1, and the quarterly reports in Boxes 151 and 152 which describe in detail the results of the public relations’ department work in terms of media coverage and public support. The clippings and press releases (besides those is the quarterly reports) are in Boxes 147 through 150.

    Exceptional items: Folder 147-8 contains information about the 1983 conference of the leaders of the various national Prison Fellowship meetings in Belfast, Ireland. Include in the folder is a 1984 directory of the leaders of the (then) fourteen different national ministries and a summary of the programs of each. Folder 147-9 contains copies of The Bruised Reader, the newsletter of PF staff. Folder 148-3 has a list of the very earliest contributors to Prison Fellowship (1975-1977); a personnel manual for the organization; many news releases and press clippings that tell story of PF activities in this time period. The origins of Justice Fellowship are documented in Folder 148-6. Folder 149-2 contains the personnel manual for Prison Fellowship. Folder 151-4 contains various resources used by PF staff, including facts and quotes and criminal justice and the prison system, a manual for community prison ministry, and a description of resources available for PF.

    Series: Reference

    Arrangement: Alphabetical, then chronological

    Date Range: 1961-1989

    Volume: 12.0 linear feet

    Boxes: 152-176

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Newspaper and magazine clippings correspondence, copies of legislative acts, court reports, pamphlets

    Correspondents: Elizabeth Morgan

    Subjects: Juvenile delinquency, Elizabeth Morgan, Gary Gilmore, ex-convicts, criminal justice, prison system, capital punishment

    Notes: This series was created by the archivist, but it does appear to have been materials that were used by various staff people at Prison Fellowship as reference. The files in Boxes 152 through 156 consist of material arranged by topics, although, since most of the materials were loose, the archivist in most cases supplied the folder title. Each folder contains a wide range of printed materials (articles, newspaper reports, booklets, transcripts, legal reports, etc.) related to various aspects of criminal justice, including capital punishment, parole procedures, the court system, the prison system. Boxes 157 through 176 contain almost exclusively newspaper and magazine clippings about Prison Fellowship, especially anything touching on the activities of Charles Colson. These folders also contain many of his editorials and articles. Boxes 157 through 167 contain newspaper clippings in chronological order. Boxes 167 through 176 contain magazine articles arranged alphabetically by the title of the magazine. All of the articles from a particular magazine are together in one or two folders.

    Exceptional items: Elizabeth Morgan was imprisoned in the District of Columbia jail for contempt because she refused to allow her daughter to go on court ordered overnight visits to her ex-husband. She accused her husband of sexual abuse of the child and went to jail rather than tell the court where the child was. Box 155 contains voluminous files about the case and Prison Fellowship’s and Charles Colson's involvement, as well as Morgan’s release by an act of Congress.

    Series: Justice Fellowship

    Arrangement: Two subseries, described in more detail in the subseries descriptions below.

  • Administrative Records
  • Restorative Justice Handbooks

  • Date Range: 1979-1990

    Volume: 7.85 linear feet

    Boxes: 176-192

    Geographic coverage: United States, and a letter from PF Australia in folder xx-xx

    Correspondents: Daniel Van Ness

    Subjects: The development of Justice Fellowship’s efforts to serve as a think tank and resources group for criminal justice reform, criminal justice reform, rights of victims of crimes, theories of rehabilitation of criminals, overcrowding in Florida prisons

    Subseries: Justice Fellowship | Administrative Records

    Arrangement: Alphabetical by significant words in folder titles

    Date Range: 1983-1989

    Volume: 2.6 linear feet

    Boxes: 176-181

    Geographic coverage: United States

    Type of documents: Minutes of meetings, budgets, planning documents, quarterly reports, correspondence, memos, newsletters

    Subjects: The beginnings of Justice Fellowship and discussion of its purpose and methods; the criminal justice system in the United States, the prison system, victims of crime, rehabilitation of criminals, capital punishment

    Notes: The documents in this series were generated by the staff and associates of JF in the process of setting up Justice Fellowship as a think tank and resource organization for reform of the criminal justice system. These boxes include budgets, planning documents, quarterly and yearly reports (Box 181), a five-year plan (Box 180), surveys and analysis of JF by outside consultants (see, for example, Folder 179-15), the quarterly newsletter of the Fellowship (Folders 179-6,7,8). Folders 178-6 to 179-1 contain files about a special task force that the Fellowship put together to examine the problem of overcrowding in Florida prisons and make a report to the governor.

    Exceptional items: Folder 179-4 contains a set of edited memos by Daniel Van Ness to the staff of Justice Fellowship on the purpose and activities of the organization. Folders 177-5 through 178-4 contain information on individual prisoners who were facing the death penalty or who had been executed. Folder 181-12 contains a draft of the book by Van Ness, "Victims and Offenders," which laid out the principles of restorative justice. (The book was published in 1986 by Inter-Varsity Press under the title, Crime and Its Victims.)

    Subseries: Justice Fellowship | Restorative Justice Handbooks

    Arrangement: Reference and general materials on restorative justice are in Boxes 182-185; materials on handbook I (dealing with theory) are Boxes 185-186; materials on handbook II (dealing with principles) are in Boxes 187-191; materials about handbook III (program models) are in Box 192. Folders in each of these subgroups are arranged alphabetically by significant words in the title. The subseries appeared to be roughly in this order when received, but the archivist had to arrange some folders according to what seemed a logical place for them to go.

    Date Range: 1986-1990

    Volume: 5.25 linear feet

    Boxes: 182-192

    Geographic coverage: United States.

    Type of documents: Drafts of chapters, memos, correspondence, comments on the handbooks by a variety of reviewers (not book reviewers but individuals selected to give their comments before publication)

    Subjects: Victims of crime, rehabilitation of criminals, criminal justice reform

    Notes: Justice Fellowship staff, under the leadership of Daniel Van Ness, were concerned with practical ways to make restorative justice a practical approach to criminal justice reform. Restorative justice put the focus of concern in criminal justice on restoring the welfare of the victim as well as the punishment and rehabilitation of the criminal. The documents in this subseries illustrate how the staff, through work sessions, discussion, and correspondence with legal and religious leaders and thinkers, attempted to clarify the theory of restorative justice and create a series of handbooks for use at grass roots levels and higher to apply the theory to criminal justice in the United States. The collection does not have copies of the actual finished handbooks and there is little in the collection about their application in practice. Besides the memos and correspondence of the staff and the reviewers of the material, there are many photocopies of articles throughout the subseries on crime, its effect on victims, and the ways to heal the effects of crime. See, for example, Folders 184-3 and 184-4.


    Records were created by the staff of Prison Fellowship and given to the Billy Graham Center Archives, 1984-1985. The materials for this collection were received by the Center in May and June 1984, August 1985, and October 1991 from Prison Fellowship Ministries.


    Accessions: 84-75, 84-77, 84-87, 85-106, 91-81

  • April 28, 1989
  • Robert Shuster
  • Janyce Nasgowitz
  • Mimi Wohlschlegel

  • Revised, January 25, 1991
  • Robert Shuster
  • Lisa Ferguson

  • Revised, June 23, 1993
  • Robert Shuster
  • Mimi L. Larson

  • Updated, February 21, 2001
  • Robert Shuster
  • Wendy Valentine
  • Creator

    Collection 274 Records of Prison Fellowship Ministries
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

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