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Pastors pray to stop Troy Davis execution


Update 11:30 P.M. ET: Troy Davis was executed at 11:08 p.m. after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute stay of execution.

12:00 P.M. ET Sept. 21, 2011 | NASHVILLE (UMNS)

Opponents to the death penalty from around the world have rallied in support of clemency for Troy Davis. A web-only photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Opponents to the death penalty from around the world have rallied in support of clemency for Troy Davis. A web-only photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Troy Davis, an inmate at a state prison in Jackson, Ga., is on deathwatch and set to be executed at 7 p.m. EDT despite an international effort to grant him clemency.

Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah police officer who was working off duty as a security guard. Since Davis' conviction, seven of the nine prosecution witnesses have either changed or recanted their testimony. No murder weapon or physical evidence connected Davis to the shooting, but a number of witnesses said they saw Davis shoot MacPhail while two others said Davis confessed to the killing.

The Sept. 21 date is the fourth time the state has tried to execute Davis. The decision is a “tragedy,” said the Rev. Will Zant, pastor of North Spring United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

Troy Davis<br/> 
A web-only photo courtesy of Amnesty International.
Troy Davis
A web-only photo courtesy of Amnesty International.

Zant and another Atlanta pastor, the Rev. Dave Grady of Druid Hills United Methodist Church, were among the crowd in a vigil Sept. 19 outside the federal building where the parole board was meeting. The board decided not to grant clemency.

“When I left (Monday), people were feeling quietly and cautiously optimistic that maybe clemency would be granted,” Grady said. “I am drafting a letter right now to the chair of the state board of pardons and paroles asking that there be reconsideration.”

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are asking people to remain vigilant and make calls to the parole board and Chatham County district attorneys, as well as the medical group that assists with the execution.

Grady said the evidence that has come out since Davis’ conviction sheds enough light to stop the execution, as his guilt is not “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

United Methodists have been working to get the death penalty abolished worldwide since they first adopted a resolution at the 1956 Methodist General Conference officially stating the church’s opposition to the death penalty. General Conference is the denomination’s top legislative gathering that meets every four years to consider changes to church law and to take positions on theological and social issues related to the church’s work around the globe.

The Rev. Dave Allen Grady. A UMNS photo by Joe Maxwell.
The Rev. Dave Allen Grady
A UMNS photo by Joe Maxwell.
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Another vigil was held at the state capital Sept. 20, and if the execution goes as planned, there will be another vigil on Sept. 21 at the capital and outside the gates of the prison, Grady said. Zant said the vigils are times of prayer over the parole board’s decision.

“I grieve this decision, and I think it is a tragedy,” Zant said. “I will be in prayer for the Davis and MacPhail families. When we become Christians, we accept the responsibility to pursue more peaceful societies. Jesus taught us to pray for that peaceful kingdom.”

*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


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Showing 10 comments

  • Out_sider 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Please publish their protest of the execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer

    and the killing of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

    authorized by the president.  Are their deaths not worthy of public protest by these pastors or did the news service decide they didn't deserve coverage?
    show more show less
  • nos2001 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    i'm not ahappy camper with the church taking a side in this nor supporting illegals.  my methodist church has a 40% decrease in church service and 60% wed fellowship..  maybe liberal policies contribute to this.  sorry, just the fact.
    show more show less
  • John Brantley 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    (I don't why the moderator had to edit my comments. I had nothing offensive, curious) My point is this: There is a difference even my 8 year old can see that some people talk about being the church and what the church 'ought' to do and speaking out when there is a chance for publicity and being consistent in word and deed.  The church did get something out of this last show.. It said great words but it stopped when the show went away. Condemning Mr Davis condemners is no better. We are people of Grace aren't we? We still...
    show more
  • Eric 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Everyone is missing the point.  We as a church need to be able to argue that the death penalty is wrong because it prematurely and irrevocably ends a person’s walk with God and eliminates there hope for enlightenment, repentance and salvation.
    We know exactly what information the parole board and courts had, and it all, beyond a reasonable doubt said that this man was an unrepentant murderer.
    We don’t need poster boys, we just need the truth of our cause.  The death penalty isn’t wrong because this man was innocent (he was not), the death penalty is just wrong all...
    show more
  • John Brantley 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand

    I am a UMC pastor in Jackson GA where the events
    were occurring and continue beyond the crowds and media attention. None of
    us seek a society that promotes death. None of us want to live in a society
    where judicial systems might make mistakes. None of us tolerate injustice. At
    issue is the sanctity of human lives, the rule of law, and the accountability
    of the church’s witness to the world. Where are we the day after justice/injustice?


    I drove right past the diagnostic center, near our
    home, Wednesday with my daughter and her friend going home from...
    show more

    (Edited by a moderator)

  • Eric 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The answer to your last question is the church has accomplished nothing except to look vacuous, self serving and dishonest.   The answer to your draughts question is, yes they know he is guilty, he committed the crime in front of 30 some odd witnesses some of whom knew him personally and didn’t describe him to the police but give them his name.  Despite Mr. Davies, the news media the activist and the church’s attempt to manipulate the facts only 2 of the 34 witnesses ever recanted anything of value and neither ever testified at his dozens of appeals.  And that...
    show more
  • Eric 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Let me start by saying that I do not like the death penalty, I think it shortens a persons opportunity to find the redeeming love of Christ and be saved.  That being said, this is nonsense, that this man was wrongfully convicted because s seven (most his friends) of the 34 (not 9) prosecution witness chanced there story is ridiculous. He shot a man in a Burger King parking lot in front of dozens of witnesses, some of whom actually knew the man then walked up to the dying officer and shot him again while he lied bleeding on the ground.
    show more

    (Edited by a moderator)

  • NMex 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am curious if the UMC protested the execution of the white guy who drug a chained up black man to his death in Texas. I didn't see anything about such a protest.  I am not saying that the white guy didn't deserve his penalty for what he did but was just curious.  Obviously I am interested in the racial aspect of this so you can accuse me of racism if you want because it probably is a little racist in nature.  I was wondering if because the white guy killed a black guy if the UMC looked the other way.
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  • Eric 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I suppose our churches hypocrisy stop at truly unpopular killers.  Murder an unborn baby because the birth is inconvenient, an understandable choice.  Execute a cold blooded unrepentant murderer and the whole world is coming to an end.  Interesting duality, pure innocence is expendable, but evil must be defended to the point where truth doesn’t even survive in the church..
    show more show less
  • Dale Bailey 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I was at no loss to understand why there was no passionate defense and cries for clemency for that man that dragged Mr. Byrd to death, knowing that liberalism and this church go together as bread and butter do.  Now this cop-killer had deceived the world, and had the church, and of course the left-wing Hollywood elitist crowd prostrate before his altar, and of couse he's a victim of racist America, and of course the bleeding hearts of the media kept constant vigil.  Naturally the killer prevailed in the courts of these forums, where the family of the slain police officer were ignored and treated with contempt,...
    show more


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