The Protestant Chaplaincy Ministry (PCM) has been serving in the Orange County Probation Facilities since 1981. The PCM provides church services, bible studies, one on one counseling and discipleship, bible and literature distribution, outreach activities, and aftercare with the Protestant youth within Juvenile Hall, the Youth Leadership Academy, and the Youth Guidance Center. Volunteers from several churches around the area are screened, trained, and supervised to assist the chaplains.
Each October since 1998, the PCM has sponsored a Retreat Activity first at Juvenile Hall and then it was moved to the Youth Guidance Center. The theme alternates between “Making Space for God” and “How to Become an Adult.” Guests from local churches meet with the youth in small groups a couple times during the five hour activity that includes dinner. In the photo is Pastor Sam Barela starting things off with an object lesson.
One of the funnest outreaches the ministry does is Bible Jeopardy. They first began at the Joplin Youth Center in 2005 and were held outside. Each group at the camp competed against each other to see which gift card they would be awarded. Nachos are served and someone shares a testimony. Many of those who have shared had been formerly incarcerated in Orange County.
On the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday, the PCM has sponsored an Easter Outreach at the Youth Guidance Center that has been well attended. Guest artists have ministered for the past 20 years who create an Easter Mural in front of the youth. Some of the youth also read the parts of the Easter Story.
Since 2002, the PCM has sponsored a prayer gathering for anyone working in the area to attend on the National Day of Prayer. Each year, anywhere from 30-50 adults gather in front of the Justice Center courtyard for a 20-minute prayer time.
In February of 2018, PYCM and CMCA co-sponsored a “Correctional Ministry Matters” Conference held at Coast Hills Church in Aliso Viejo. We had about 100 leaders and volunteers from several correctional ministries around the state. I think the attendee who came the farthest was from the Bay Area. It was encouraging to see trainers with a national presence as plenary speakers and as workshop instructors.
For over 30 years, the PCM has been able to provide Christmas Outreaches at all of the probation facilities with volunteers serving from multiple churches around the county. The Christmas Story to presented with the youth reading the parts on a script, songs are sung, and the youth enjoy snacks and interaction with the guests for about two hours.
Each year, the PCM sponsors a special communion service at the Youth Guidance Center and the Youth Leadership Academy for all Protestants in the facility. For many, it is the first time they have celebrated communion. The service is held during the week prior to Easter Sunday.
Chaplain Sheri Snyder (second from left) began sponsoring a “Sister Circle” in the girls unit at the Youth Guidance Center. Special guests are hand selected to share their stories to the young ladies. The local ministry “Northeast of the Well” has been a great resource for this outreach activity.
In 2020, the PCM was the first to begin providing online services and later a bible study to the three probation facilities using Zoom. The photo was taken just prior to the youth arriving at the Wednesday evening bible study at the Youth Guidance Center.
Christmas Eve and Good Friday are good days to offer outreach activities to the probation facilities even if you can’t be there in person. For these last two holidays, the PCM created two 23-minute presentations that explained the meaning of Christmas and Easter and presented the gospel to everyone in attendance via a Zoom meeting. Both were well attended and received.