Slideshow image
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you... - Matthew 5:38-44

Thank you for entering in and engaging in the work of ending the death penalty in Ohio as we acknowledge this Ohio Faith Communities for Death Penalty Abolition Week, Oct. 8-17. I must say that while preparing this, the Lord completely surprised me, humbled me, and I am feeling a heavy weight. Honestly, my death penalty work has felt somewhat at arm's length. I am entering in through pen pals, engaging others in writing to men and women on the inside, but something shifted.  

This week, I heard from the Lord a deep sense to sit with those grieving. As you may have seen, Columbus's homicide rate is skyrocketing. As a member of Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing, I have been stopped in my tracks to see this violence, to name the trauma, and to see the incredible number of people who are impacted by violence. I sense the Lord saying that grief from violence, is close, is in our midst.

We cannot as a church engage the work of death penalty abolition without at the same time acknowledging the grief held so closely by members in our midst.

Unfortunately, this week, when I was sharing this with someone from our congregation, they immediately named 2 names of lives lost too soon to gun violence in their past, and then explained how a loved one had been a victim of attempted murder. 

Just this past week, a child who graduated from our elementary school (Clinton Elementary) who was now 14 years old was slain by a bullet. Rest in Power Daymar Carlisle. Our city, our school, our kid. These incidents are not too far from our Sanctuary community, geographically or personally. When I was sharing this with someone from our congregation, they immediately named 2 names of lives lost too soon to gun violence in their past, and then explained how a loved one had been a victim of attempted murder. The impact of violence is as close as we allow ourselves to feel it.

Through my work with several groups focused on rethinking incarceration and ending the death penalty, I have heard the weight of the finality of death. Many murder victim family members don’t want a lifetime of more consequences. Average death penalty case takes 10 years in court. The emotions of grief, trauma, anger and mourning swirl for murder victim family members as well as ones convicted of murder.

State sanctioned execution cannot be the final answer. It’s out of compassion for those loved ones that I also seek to end the death penalty.  

I would love to connect more on phone or in person to share more and hear if/how this work of ending the death penalty resonates with you. or

I sense lament is in order, but also action. Below are a few ways you can take your
next step:


  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
  • Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (book and movie)