FreeIndeed Pastoral Transition

The Outside Council for FreeIndeed Prison Congregation has announced the resignation of Pastor Dirk Stadtlander. Pastor Stadtlander began his ministry with FreeIndeed on March 1, 2020 – mere days before our world was turned upside down from global shutdowns due to COVID-19. Despite the challenges presented from the pandemic, Pastor Stadtlander was able to continue building the worshipping community within the walls of the Anamosa State Penitentiary and was gratefully able to maintain visitation and relationships with the incarcerated individuals during days and weeks of 23-hour lockdown. Pastor Stadtlander’s partnership with the staff, administration and men of Anamosa State Penitentiary proved to be invaluable during the days and weeks following the horrendous murders earlier this year, remaining the only prison congregation pastor within the walls of the prison in the state. We give thanks for his ministry and wish him blessings in his next call as staff chaplain at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Although these last 19-months have proven to be challenging and the ability to worship together – congregation and incarcerated individuals – has remained impossible, the need to proclaim the gospel is nonetheless urgent. The FreeIndeed Outside Council remains in close conversation with the prison administration during this transition, asking how we might best partner together to proclaim Christ’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

This transition is proving to be a time of invitation:

  • Invitation for greater connection – how has this ministry impacted you?
  • Invitation for prayer – won’t you pray for the ministry, the incarcerated individuals, staff, and administration at Anamosa State Penitentiary, the Outside Council, and leadership
  • Invitation for generosity – even as we transition and discern, the Outside Council is seeking opportunities for connection with the incarcerated individuals inside the prison and we will keep you informed as these arise.

We want to hear your stories and thoughts about the future of this ministry. Please contact Pastor Erika Uthe, Director for Evangelical Mission, with your comments:

[email protected]

About FREE Indeed

Free Indeed is a congregation at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, a men’s state prison located in Anamosa, eastern Iowa. Free Indeed is a community that shares the good news of Jesus Christ with and through those inside the prison walls, with support of ministry partners outside the prison walls.


Free Indeed will serve the nearly 1000 men living at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Based on the Prison Congregations in America model we seek to:

  • Share the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are inside and outside of prison walls
  • Build a community of faith within the confines of the prison using national Prison Congregations of American model.
  • Build a network of supporters on the outside of the prison walls to support and participate in the congregation
  • Assist those who are released to be restored to the community and to continue in their spiritual journey.


We are a ministry being established through the support of the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA, we seek to be an ecumenical congregation that welcomes all.

We consist of two main parts that make up one worshipping community. The inside congregation is like any other church community. We will hold Holy Communion, have bible studies, times for prayer and reflection. We will have a leadership council that helps make decisions about governance and ministry. The outside community is a network of ministerial and financial supporters. There will be an administrative council. Our ministry seeks to be a network of congregations and individuals that support the prison congregation spiritually and financially.


How to Support Us

  • Prayer
  • Financial gifts
  • Invite someone from the Free Indeed steering committee to speak to your church or community group. Email Pastor Erika Uthe, [email protected], to arrange a presentation.

Your gift to this ministry can be given by cash, check, credit card is needed today to fund the current needs of our community. You may also make recurring gifts.


Make checks payable to the Southeastern Iowa Synod with “Prison Ministry” noted in the memo line

Mail checks to:
Southeastern Iowa Synod
2635 Northgate Rd.
Iowa City, IA 52245


Make a secure credit card donation. (Select FreeIndeed in the “Give to” category)