March 2015

Christian Retailers Bringing Hope to Desperate Children

Prison Fellowship International - Retail Installation

Covenant Group, The Parable Group and their respective partner retailers nationwide, announced today a joint initiative with Prison Fellowship International, the largest and most extensive association of national Christian ministries working within the criminal justice field, to launch the Children of Prisoners Sponsorship Program to rescue, restore and rebuild the lives of poor and vulnerable children of prisoners—impacting lives across the globe.

“Around the world, millions of children have lost one or both parents to imprisonment,” said Frank Lofaro, President of Prison Fellowship International. “These children don’t have a safe place to live and lack food, medical care, education – and hope. They fend for themselves on the street or live with their parents in prison and are at a high risk to be sold into child slavery and sex trafficking. The need is daunting; PFI already has 10,000 kids located and identified on our waiting list.”

Bill Anderson, former CBA President – now Executive Advisor and Consultant to Prison Fellowship International, added, “We are excited to be working with Christian retailers to bring hope, relief and Christ’s love to children of prisoners around the world. Christian stores are the ideal partner – cutting across denominational lines and serving the whole Church. We are delighted with the strong response and high level of participation by Covenant and Parable and their partner stores. Together we will make a huge difference – for God, for good…forever in the lives of thousands of kids. And we’re encouraged that additional stores and groups will join us as we move forward.”

Prison Fellowship International, founded 35 years ago by former Nixon aide and Evangelical leader Chuck Colson, is dedicated to communicating the redemptive love and transforming power of Jesus Christ to prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families, and victims of crime around the world. Prison Fellowship International works in more than 125 countries and engages 45,000 volunteers in prison ministry.

“Remarkably, PFI has been able to save lives as they work to restore physical health, improve nutrition, provide general education and ultimately bring the lost to Christ. We couldn’t be more privileged to partner with them and our partner retailers in this great work,” said Steve Potratz, Founder and President of The Parable Group. “Christian retailers will be able to connect children in need to customers who can help.”

Chuck Wallington, President of Covenant Group added, “The full sponsorship program is well-planned, well-executed, and highly cost-effective for the child sponsors. We look to enroll many sponsors for children in need over the coming months as our stores work to promote this program to the customers we serve.”

The Parable Group and Covenant Group will raise awareness to customers via catalogs, emails, online and in stores beginning in March 2015. Retailers will aim to engage customers to enter into a one-on-one sponsorship with a child for just $28 a month. The turnkey, easy-to-implement program includes training resources, marketing support, in-store merchandising, data-reporting and accounting services for participating retailers.

# # #

Prison Fellowship International is the largest and most extensive association of national Christian ministries working within the criminal justice field. PFI is committed to sharing the love and power of Jesus Christ to prisoners, families of prisoners and victims of crime around the world. For over 35 years, PFI has focused on contextually appropriate programs which are indigenous, volunteer-based and transdenominational in order to minister to prisoners and their families in culturally impactful ways. For more information, contact cstonehouse@pfi.org or visit www.pfi.org. Prison Fellowship International is based in Washington DC.

Bill Anderson is an Executive Mentor/Advisor to Presidents and Boards – serving a wide variety of non-profit and for profit organizations across the US and internationally. His clients span many industries including retail, publishing, customer service, trade associations, Christian missions & ministries, marketing & media, radio, health services, pastors, and Christian schools & universities. For more information contact Bill Anderson.

Since 1985, The Parable Group has helped independent stores buy, promote and sell products using data, technology and marketing expertise in the Christian market. The Parable Group is a leading retail services provider specializing in print and digital marketing for independent Christian stores, and delivering innovative, industry-leading marketing solutions connecting products and services to Christian consumers. For more information, contact Sally or visit www.parablegroup.com. The Parable Group is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.

For over 30 years, Covenant Group has provided an array of marketing and promotional services to independent Christian retailers of all sizes, including print and digital catalogs and flyers, in-store promotional aids, digital marketing services, and a burgeoning branded website network; that allow retailers to both serve and inform the consumers and churches they serve with state-of-the-art resources. For more information, contact cwallington@covenantgroupstores.com or visit www.covenantgroupstores.com.  Covenant Group is based in Spartanburg, SC.

The Parable Group Launches 2nd Annual Writing Contest Sponsored By Westbow Press

Aspiring Authors Writing Contest

The Parable Group, its retail partners and WestBow Press, the strategic self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, the world’s largest Christian publisher, announced today that they are accepting submissions for the Second Annual Aspiring Authors Writing Contest. Top 10 finalists will be announced on Sunday, June 21 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando before the International Christian Retail Show.

“Now, more than ever, the world is in need of positive, inspirational Christian messages that help people deal with the challenges of our time,” said Steve Potratz, President of The Parable Group. “I believe books can be used by the Holy Spirit to transform hearts one person at a time, one message at a time. This is why I’m intrigued by the growing movement of undiscovered authors eager to help other people through their books. We’re honored to help those fresh voices get heard.”

The grand prize-winning book of the Second Annual Aspiring Authors Writing Contest will be self-published with WestBow Press and reviewed for possible traditional publication by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. Additionally, upon publication, the grand prize winner will receive a free marketing package from The Parable Group to promote the prize-winning book in catalogs and in bookstores across the nation.

In 2014, debut author Richard Newberry won the inaugural Aspiring Authors Writing Contest with his young adult Christian novel Light at the Rat Pond, an inspiring story set in 1970s Illinois. His book is available in Parable stores nationwide and on parable.com.

“We’re excited to partner with The Parable Group to give aspiring authors the opportunity to rise above the crowd and get noticed,” said Pete Nikolai, Publisher of WestBow Press and Director of Publishing Services for HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

The 2015 Aspiring Authors Writing Contest is open to authors who are at least 18 years of age and have written an unpublished manuscript that is at least 10,000 words in length. Most genres are eligible, excluding children’s and picture books. All submissions must be received by May 31, 2015.

For more information, including the complete list of prizes, rules and regulations, and an explanation of editorial standards, please visit:  www.westbowpress.com/parable

# # #

WestBow Press is a strategic supported self-publishing alliance between HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Author Solutions, LLC — the world leader in supported self-publishing. Titles published through WestBow Press are evaluated for sales potential and considered for publication through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.  For more information, visit www.westbowpress.com or call (866)-928-1240. For WestBow Press news, click “Like” at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress and follow @westbowpress on Twitter.