3,300 Prisoners Celebrate Easter with Prison Fellowship at Valley State Prison

During Easter weekend, as millions of Californians flock to churches across the Golden State to celebrate Christianity’s holiest day, the nation’s largest prison ministry and its local volunteers will bring church to the 3,300 men behind bars at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.

Held in the prison yard on March 26, the high-energy event is completely voluntary for those incarcerated in the prison and will include a message of hope from Serving California founder B. Wayne Hughes and pastor Tim Rolen from New Hope Community Church in Clovis. Comedian Gilbert Esqueval, musician Tim Kepler, the Santa Cruz Celebrate Recovery Band, and Spanish recording acts will also participate.

The Easter event is orchestrated by Prison Fellowship, a nonprofit that offers faith-based programs designed to address the complex needs of those behind bars, helping prisoners participate in a positive new community, choose a new path for their lives and return to communities as good neighbors when they are released. The day’s activities are intended to encourage those incarcerated at the prison and contribute to their transformation, ultimately keeping them from returning to prison once released.

Media opportunities available at the Easter program, which will run from 9 to 11:30 a.m. PT and from 1 to 3 p.m. PT, include:

  • Prisoners worshiping at the voluntary event
  • Contemporary Christian musicians
  • Serving California founder B. Wayne Hughes and pastor Tim Rolen
  • Local prison ministry volunteers
  • Prison Fellowship’s executive director for California, Joe Avila


MEDIA NOTE: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation deadline for media clearance for the event is March 17. To obtain clearance, please contact PIO Lieutenant Ronald Ladd at 559-665-6100, ext. 5509.

About Prison Fellowship

Prison Fellowship was founded in 1976 by Charles Colson, a former aide to President Nixon who served a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Today the faith-based nonprofit is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform.