Methodists stand with Gaile Owens
The Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church last week reaffirmed its stand against the death penalty and stood by Gaile Owens in her effort to be spared from execution on Sept. 28.
“Our social principles teach that the death penalty is an affront to the workings of God’s grace and at its core is a denial of the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings,” said Brian Rossbert, a pastor in the Nashville area and author of the resolution the Tennessee Annual Conference affirmed.
Currently, 88 people are on death row in the State of Tennessee. The case of Gaile Owens has attracted particular attention not only because she suffered abuse at the hands of her husband before arranging for his murder, a fact the jury never heard about, but also because of the details relating to a plea bargain she agreed to that would have meant a life sentence. Since entering prison in 1986, Owens has been a model prisoner and has helped transform the lives of many of her fellow inmates. She is a means of grace for those who come into contact with her and cutting her life short would be a detriment to the lives of those both inside and outside of the walls of the prison.
“In no way, shape, or form do we condone the decision that Gaile made that caused the death of her husband,” Rossbert continued. “We pray for God to forgive at the same time we pray that the State of Tennessee not make the same choice to end a human life.”
The Tennessee Annual Conference voted with no objections to the resolution and will send a copy of the resolution to Gov. Phil Bredesen in the coming days calling on him to commute the sentence of Gaile Owens and stand firmly against the death penalty.