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Criminal Justice and the Church
Photo credit: Scott Langley,


Returning in February 2024


Zoom link will be emailed after registration


Carolyn Van Oloo

Criminal Justice and the Church

Criminal Justice and the Church is an introductory online course in October and November presented by Highrock Beyond Bars, a community responding to America’s prison crisis.

The purpose of this seven-session online learning community is to familiarize ourselves with the systems, history, issues, and reform of the American prison system. Though the issues are overwhelming, we want to answer a call to solidarity with those behind bars and respond to the command, “Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them,” (Hebrews 13:3).

Recognizing that our time, resources and expertise are limited, nevertheless, our hope is that each participant will walk away with a non-zero, specific, doable action item. We want to respond to Jesus’ declaration that when we serve the prisoner, we serve Jesus (Matthew 25:34-46). Moreover, when we serve the prisoner, we stand with the resurrected, ascended Lord in the ministry of wiping away tears and healing sorrow (Revelation 21:1-4). This twofold identification with Jesus pulls us into arenas of discomfort so that by God’s grace we can stand with, learn from, and comfort the afflicted.

Moreover, as we stand with Jesus in this space, we recognize that we have a lot to learn, that our relationships with those affected by incarceration have a lot to teach us, and that our relationships are truly reciprocal.  

Our current justice system, and our responses to violence in particular […] have delivered further pain and harm to communities. We need new responses to violence that address trauma, advance racial equity, and fulfill the promise of healing, safety, and restoration for all.”  — Equal Justice USA Evangelical Network

Before each session, participants will spend thirty minutes or more preparing to participate and contribute to our learning community. The course will include this pre-work plus reflection, discussion, and guest speakers. The course platform comes from the Equal Justice USA Evangelical Network and The Church and Justice: A Tool for Churches.  

Background photo credit: Scott Langley