Addressing the Relationship between Fatherlessness and Incarceration

In 2014, General Synod assigned the Commission on Christian Action to explore the issue of fatherlessness related to incarceration and generate ideas that could be of value to the church. Those ideas are listed here.

  • Raise the level of awareness related to fatherlessness due to incarceration by developing a resource list including books, pamphlets, seminars, speakers, websites, workshops, and ministries that can serve to develop training curriculum for local congregations.
  • Identify ways the church can be involved with fatherless children such as mentoring, after-school programs, Angel Tree Fellowship, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and Big Brother/Big Sister. These can serve as opportunities for connecting with and ministering to children who have fathers in prison.
  • Identify ways the church can develop a ministry of care for mothers of fatherless children like Healing Communities Network, Strengthening Families (from the Center for the Study of Social Policy), and Faithwalking (a component of Ridder Church Renewal).
  • Connect with children of incarcerated fathers in local communities. Invite them to youth groups, pray with them, disciple them in the faith.

Several resources related to fatherlessness can help congregations learn more about fatherlessness:

The Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Mentoring Children of Prisoners program makes grants to organizations that serve urban, suburban, rural, or tribal populations with substantial numbers of children of incarcerated parents. The program also supports the establishment and operation of mentoring programs.

InsideOut Dad is a character-based education and support program that helps incarcerated men develop skills to become more involved, supportive fathers. The program focuses on universal aspects of fatherhood as well as the unique challenges faced by incarcerated fathers.