Update, 9/30/15: Kelly Gissendaner was put to death by the state of Georgia at 12:21 a.m. She was singing “Amazing Grace.” Prayers for Kelly’s eternal peace, healing for all who hearts are torn apart, justice and mercy for the next five who await execution this week. Learn more about U.S. Death Penalty.
As I write this post, the Georgia Parole Board is meeting to consider a stay of execution for Kelly Gissendaner. If they decline her plea, she will be executed tonight at 7 p.m. Kelly Renee Gissendaner is a mother, a Christian, a student of theology — and the only woman on Georgia’s death row. Kelly was sentenced to death for contracting the murder of her husband in 1997.
In March on the eve of an earlier scheduled execution, I got involved. I wrote about her case. I posted on Facebook, sent a tweet, and prayed. Then when she received a temporary stay of execution, I turned my attention to other things. And today, she is on the verge of death again — a hashtag away from losing her life for a big mistake she made back when she was another person. Kelly has been transformed into a new person during her years in prison. She has found a deep relationship with God, has reconciled and been forgiven by her children, and has counseled numerous women from her prison cell. The video below contains the testimony of many of these women.
I am guilty of being caught up in the cause of the moment, of hashtag activism without follow-through. Once she escaped her execution in March, I took no more action on Kelly’s case. As a person of faith, I believe in the power of God’s love to change people, to save and redeem them from their sins. And I believe along with my church (United Methodist) that state-sponsored killing is just as wrong as any other kind of killing.
I don’t know what will be the outcome of this day. I pray for Kelly to live beyond it, to be able to continue to be in relationship with her children, with those who love her, with the world. I pray that I will be forgiven for my failure to advocate on her behalf during the months I could have taken action. I pray that, despite my human limitations, my tiny involvement in the world will make a difference.
Today, Kelly is on my mind and on my heart. Lord, send your wisdom, your mercy, your comfort into our hurting world. Surround Kelly and her loved ones with your love. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.