One Denver church is reaching out to inmates at a South Carolina prison this season with hopes of spiritually encouraging them through a simple holiday dinner.
New Destiny Community Church has been volunteering with the Holiday Dinner Program at Kershaw Correctional Institution in Kershaw, S.C., for the last three years.
New Destiny Pastor Mike Teeter, who heads up the initiative, has personally assisted with the program for four years.
He has no doubt that the annual outreach dinner is one of many prison ministry programs of which heâ€™s been a part over the years which has helped to mold inmates into people who can more successfully function on the other side of their bars.
â€œThey need a network of people who can direct them in the right direction,â€ Teeter said.
Because there are around 1,500 inmates at the Kershaw facility, the dinner takes place on 10 different nights, ensuring a special holiday meal for each person.
â€œAny person needs to know they are cared for and loved,â€ Teeter said. â€œThis time of year a lot of people get down and out, not just in prison but in life.â€
This Saturday is the final night of the Holiday Dinner Program. This yearâ€™s program started the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, with a couple dinners taking place that following week.
While only a handful of area churches were on the volunteer list during the dinner programâ€™s commencement year, Teeter noted that over the years more than 30 groups have pulled together to make the program spring to life.
Churches from Concord, Rock Hill and Raleigh, among other locations across the Carolinas, have assisted the event by either entertaining inmates with music or catering a set amount of food, provided by church donations. Individuals also often share their faith-filled testimonies with the audience.
Teeter noted that the inmates will also get to enjoy a 15 to 20 minute skit presentation during this weekendâ€™s â€œgrand finaleâ€ dinner. The performance will be given from the perspective of the innkeeper mentioned in the Biblical Christmas story of Christâ€™s birth.
Teeter is thankful for the opportunity to â€œpour into these menâ€™s lives,â€ he said of the inmates.
â€œA lot of these men donâ€™t get visits from family and friends,â€ he said,Â â€œand often we are the only ones who come in and show we careâ€¦ If they have different churches theyâ€™ve connected withâ€¦when they get out, it will help them transition into society and help them transform spiritually.â€
Overseeing the Holiday Dinner Program has also been a spiritual experience for Teeter.
â€œIt shows me how God touches and changes lives,â€ Teeter said. â€œIâ€™ve seen men down in life, depressed and on the wrong pathâ€¦but now, through them seeing people careâ€¦theyâ€™ve turned and done a 180.â€
Starting Sunday, New Destiny Community Church will now meet at a facility owned by Lake Norman Church of God. The building is located at 626 Highway 16 South in Denver. New Destiny formerly held its weekly worship services at Denverâ€™s Westport Country Club.
Anyone wishing to find out more information on the church or interested in volunteering with next yearâ€™s Holiday Dinner Program or other prison ministry outreach opportunity, can contact the church at 704-947-3829 or Mike Teeter at 803-448-5699.
Individuals can also email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the church website at www.newdestinydenver.org.