Following the Execution of Willie James Pye

by Jennifer McBride on March 21, 2024

Last night at All Saints' Episcopal Church, the bell tolled at 7:00 pm for a holy seven minutes, as we prayed for Willie James Pye, the first person to be executed by the state of Georgia since January 2020; remembered the victim of the crime, Alicia Lynn Yarbrough; and prayed for the end of the death penalty and for nonviolent ways to confront grave harm. As an intellectually disabled man, Mr. Pye was supposed to have been protected from execution by Supreme Court law.

As Christians, we follow Jesus, the one who was himself a victim of the death penalty, and who asks for our straightforward obedience to his gospel command, “Do not condemn" (Luke 6:37). God’s justice is rooted in the preservation and restoration of life and exposes the inadequacy of human forms of justice that perpetuate violence and harm. During this season of Lent, as we approach Holy Week and journey with Jesus toward the cross, we stand in solidarity with all people who face violence at the hand of the state and lament that this was done in our name.

Thanks to Ellen Porter, who offered this powerful witness as she rang the bell in Midtown Atlanta.


The Rev. Dr. Jennifer McBride

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