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.

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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 Celebrates 30-Year Milestone

The Parable Christian Store 1980s

The Parable Group opened in fall of 1985, in the back room of a Christian bookstore in downtown San Luis Obispo, California. At the time, The Parable Group had two part-time employees, one of which was Steve Potratz.

Steve and his wife Laurie created a simple flyer for their independent Christian retail store called The Parable. It impressed a fellow store owner so much that he asked Steve to print a few for his customers, and the idea of an independent marketing group was born. On a foundation of catalogs, The Parable Group was the first group of its kind to strategically market on behalf of independent Christian retailers.

The business has endured: The Parable Group is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2015.

Today, under Potratz’s leadership, The Parable Group serves 179 independent Christian retailers and 120+ faith-based product and service providers with customized advertising, innovative marketing and digital solutions that reach and engage the Christian consumer on their behalf.

Over those three decades, The Parable Group has employed hundreds of people. Many former employees have graduated to leadership at companies such as Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, David C. Cook, Tyndale House Publishers, B&H, Capitol Christian, Living on the Edge, PureFlix, Gap, Nike and LinkedIn.

Former employee, Cheryl Kerwin, now Senior Marketing Manager at Tyndale House Publishers says, “Throughout my 30+ years in the CBA industry, I have been fortunate enough to work for leaders who not only were good business minds, but had a heart and passion for ministry. Parable taught me how to make sure we had our retailer’s best interest in mind when working with vendors to develop promotions for products that were going to make a difference in the consumers’ lives. Now I am able to better understand what type of products and promotions retailers need in order to minister to the spiritual needs of people and I have Parable to thank for that.”

“God orchestrated the last thirty years,” Potratz says. “He faithfully brought us the right people at the right time to help develop the business and impact millions of lives with the products and services that we’ve marketed for stores and vendors. I’ll continue to trust Him as we continue to deliver life-changing content to the Christian consumer.”

The Parable Group has since sent over 388 million catalogs and 64 million emails to Christian consumers. They’ve also reached and engaged Christian consumers through newspaper inserts, television commercials, radio ads, targeted shared mail, postcards, social media campaigns, online display advertising and pre-roll video ads. Their multi-channel approach to marketing provides retailers and brands with customized solutions to fit their unique needs.

“At the end of the day, The Parable Group is about connecting people to Christ-centered products that change lives,” Potratz says. ”That’s what’s kept me going for the last three decades, and it’s what will drive The Parable Group for the next thirty years.”

The Parable Group plans to commemorate their 30th anniversary in several ways throughout 2015. For starters, in the coming months they will be recognizing retailers who have also been in business for at least 30 years.

The Parable Group is also asking their vendors, retailers and industry partners to share their favorite memories of working together. Send comments to sally.ross@parable.com. Comments will be collected in a vault, with one pulled out each month. Each month’s winner will receive a $30 Visa gift card.