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Many of us have experienced the transforming time of worshiping with the men of Living Stones Prison Congregation. In them we see Christ and come to know these men as our brothers. We also come to understand there is much to be learned about what has brought them to this place—and that there are changes that need to happen in our criminal justice system.   Even before the traumatic events of the past few years, the ELCA began to address the need for changing public attitudes and postures, and to call for dramatic reforms in policies and   practices in this system. In 2013 the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the ELCA social statement on “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries” which presents a comprehensive perspective on these matters and the communities who are affected. While it affirms the principles of the U.S. criminal justice system, it also reveals the desperate cries that reflect the system’s serious deficiencies. It recognizes that many people in the system serve their   professional vocations with competent and   humane performance. It also recognizes that current approaches, such as the emphasis on mass incarceration, impose significant costs on all involved in the system and on society as a whole. These approaches are founded on an underlying punitive mindset and persistent inequalities based on race and class.   We encourage congregations to consider using the ELCA study “Called to Hear” to learn more about this issue. This scripture-based, expert-led, five-session study uses videos, handouts, Bible study, and discussion to explore this topic and be moved to action. Participants encounter a new way of listening to Why are we called to care about our broken system? Who is crying out? How does God guide us to seek justice? What are some models of ministry? How can we advocate for change?   Our board is ready to help facilitate the study in your congregation (either in person or by Zoom) —or you can do it on your own. Contact Sandi at for details or go to for more information.