Two Project fellow travelers were featured last Friday in the New York Times for their work with Kelly Gissendaner who is scheduled to die today by lethal injection in the state of Georgia. From the New York Times article:
In 2010, Ms. Gissendaner enrolled in a theology studies program for prisoners, run by a consortium of Atlanta-area divinity schools, including the one at Emory University. During her year of study, she became a passionate student of Christian thinkers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis, and Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury.
She was also moved by the work of Professor Moltmann, who is 88 and lives in Germany. When she learned that Jennifer McBride, her teacher, knew him, Ms. Gissendaner decided to reach out.
“She asked if it would be appropriate to write him,” recalled Professor McBride, who now teaches at Wartburg College, in Iowa. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ She wrote to him, and a friendship developed.”
Ms. Gissendaner sent Professor Moltmann a paper that she had written on Bonhoeffer. He was impressed, and he wrote back. The two Christians — a convicted murderer in Georgia and a retired theologian in Tübingen — became pen pals. In four years, they have exchanged “20 or 30 letters,” Professor Moltmann said, speaking from his home in Germany.
They discuss “theological and faith questions,” he said. “And I have found her very sensitive, and not a monster, as the newspapers depicted her. And very intelligent.” She has been rehabilitated, he said. “She has changed her mind, and her life.”
In October 2011, Professor Moltmann, in Atlanta to lecture at Emory, asked Professor McBride if he could visit Ms. Gissendaner in prison. His visit coincided with a graduation ceremony for the 10 or so theology students at the prison, and he agreed to give a commencement address.
After the ceremony, “the three of us sat together,” Professor McBride recalled. “They talked about their mutual experience in prison, and about how they both had time in the military” — a German soldier in World War II, Professor Moltmann was a prisoner of war afterward. “They talked about what it was like to read the Bible in prison.”
To read more click here. The sign the petition “Faith Leaders Unite to Call for the Life of Kelly Gissendaner to be Spared,” click here. To read “Killing Kelly: An open letter to Georgia’s Christian citizens” by of another Project Contributor, David Gushee, click here.