LANSDOWNE, Va. Chuck Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship 30 years ago after his release from a federal facility, celebrated his 75th birthday by lightening his load.
After directing the $50 million ministry to growth in all 50 states and 110 countries, Colson stepped down as chairman of the ministry Oct. 23.
Michael Timmis, who became the chairman of the Prison Fellowship International board in 1997, will resume the post. Colson remains a member of the board and will continue to pursue his extensive writing, speaking, and teaching work with Prison Fellowship, a ministry news release said.
Colson was incarcerated seven months for his role in the Watergate scandal and upon his release, the former Richard Nixon aide kept a promise he made to a fellow inmate, saying he would never forget those he left behind in prison.
The organization now partners with more than 20,000 churches and uses some 50,000 volunteers across the United States.
In addition to his work inside prison, Colson has written 23 books which have combined for more than five million copies sold, making him a sought-after speaker and commentator on a wide range of issues.
His daily radio commentary, BreakPoint, was launched in 1991 and provides a Christian worldview perspective on issues of the day to listeners on 1,000 outlets around the country. He has a syndicated newspaper column that is carried by newspapers across the country, including the Christian Examiner.
Timmis is co-owner and vice-chairman of Talon L.L.C., a privately-held company formed in 1973 with extensive interests in manufacturing and real estate companies. Timmis and his wife, Nancy, have a special concern for the poor in the Third World and have developed self-help projects in Africa and in Central and South America. He is a member of the board for the Navigators. Timmis committed his life to Christ in 1983 at an executive outreach to business leaders in Detroit sponsored by Art and Nancy DeMoss.
In his work with Prison Fellowship International, Timmis has visited prisons around the world and met with world leaders.
"I've seen Him (Christ) in the darkest places on earth, in the lives of prisoners who have been stripped of everything, yet project the very image of Christ," Timmis said.
Former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley , who was named president and chief executive officer of Prison Fellowship in 2002, lauded the board's selection.
"Mike's demonstrated compassion for the poor and prisoners, and his commitment to equipping Christians to impact the culture, make him the perfect choice to lead the Prison Fellowship board," Earley said.
Colson said he is eager to see how the new management team will direct the ministry.
"The potential for this ministry under the leadership and management of men like Mark Earley and Mike Timmis, and the help of 300 talented staff who share our vision and passion for prisoners and their families, is phenomenal," he said.