FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 11, 2012
CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-441-1808 (office); 512-552-5948 (cell)
Austin Religious Leaders to Join Internationally Renowned Author and Speaker, Sister Helen Prejean, for Dialogue on the Death Penalty
Austin, Texas – On Friday evening, October 12, 2012, in the Mabee Ballroom of the Ragsdale Center of St. Edward’s University, two Austin faith leaders will join Sister Helen Prejean, an internationally known speaker and the author of Dead Man Walking, for an unprecedented conversation about the role of people of faith in the growing movement to end the death penalty.
Reverend John Elford, the Senior Pastor at University United Methodist Church, and Pastor Nestor Menjivar of Principe de Paz Baptist Church will engage in a dialogue with Sister Helen about moving Texas away from a culture of vengeance toward a culture of accountability that does not rely on the death penalty; how faith leaders and people of faith can take a more proactive role in educating their congregations about this issue; and the challenges of addressing the death penalty from the pulpit.
“I believe pastors and other religious leaders need to fully understand their God-given obligation and responsibility to teach God’s great mercy, which he calls us to show to others, especially those considered the least deserving,” said Pastor Nestor Menjivar of Principe de Paz Baptist Church.
“Faithful Considerations: A Discussion with Sister Helen Prejean and Austin Faith Leaders” will take place from 7:00 to 9:00 PM; more than 300 people are expected to attend. This is the third in a series of interfaith dialogues that the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) has convened in conjunction with community partners. Similar events took place last year in Houston and San Antonio and reflect increasing faith-based opposition to the death penalty.
This event is taking place at a time of intense national scrutiny of the death penalty. Five states have abandoned the death penalty in recent years and public support for capital punishment has fallen to its lowest level in 40 years. As new death sentences and executions continue to decline, increasing numbers of Texans are beginning to question the wisdom, efficacy and virtue of the death penalty as a means to confront crime and achieve justice.
“My fervent hope is that dialogue among Christians and practitioners of other religions will help us recover our voice as a people committed to peace and non-violence,” said Reverend John Elford, Senior Pastor of University United Methodist Church.
“Faithful Considerations” is sponsored by: Catholic Mobilizing Network; Congregational Church of Austin; Diocese of Austin – Office of Prolife Activities and Chaste Living; General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church; Methodist Federation for Social Action – Southwest Texas Chapter; Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation; St. Edward’s University; Liz and Duff Stewart; Texas After Violence Project; Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission; Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; and Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy.