Willow South Lake Packs Christmas Gifts for Illinois Prisoners
Willow South Lake, Lincolnshire, joined with all campuses of Willow Creek Community Church throughout Chicagoland this past Sunday to pack Christmas gifts for every inmate in Illinois.
Those attending services this past weekend got to live out the command in scripture to "remember those in prison as if you were there yourself" from Hebrews 13:3. According to church leaders, "These gifts are a simple reminder to others that they are loved by our church and even more so by our God."
The Sunday service also included an interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, a former death row inmate and author of The Sun Does Shine. Anthony spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Attendees heard his story of incarceration and finding freedom with the help of social justice activist and lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
There was also a tangible way for church attendees to help an inmate's child receive a fun surprise for Christmas--a gift chosen for them by their incarcerated parent, along with a note to remind them that they are loved and haven't been forgotten. Attendees could select an Angel tree ornament from the trees in their lobby before they left the church.
For decades, Willow Creek has partnered with local prisons to provide care and support for incarcerated people--both during their time and upon release. The Church has a very active Prison & Jail Ministry. In 2018, they:
• Sent 3,800 letters to inmates
• Held 10 in-prison Re-Entry Summits to teach people skills for finding resources and getting a job upon re-entry
• Worked with 120 people coming out of incarceration to connect them with Care Center services
• Held monthly meetings with more than 75 formerly incarcerated and affected family members to provide emotional support and resources
• Served 25 people weekly for a RESTART Bible study
• Fostered partnerships with 49 employers willing to offer second chances to individuals with records
The Church, located at 625 Barclay Boulevard, Lincolnshire, Is the newest regional campus of Willow Creek Community Church of South Barrington. Willow South Lake offers services weekly at 9 AM and 11 AM. Additional information is available on the internet at willowsouthlake.org; and on Facebook at facebook.com/willowsouthlake.