I was invited on Tuesday night to give the opening prayer at a press conference advocating against the death penalty in general, and the execution of Clarence Dixon in particular. This is what I prayed:
In the name of the God who created every human being, and who loves and values every human being, let us pray.
We pray this afternoon in grief for a death: for Deanna Bowdoin, who was horribly murdered, and whose life was stolen. We grieve that she is not here today, and able to look back on a life well-lived, and we honor the grief and love of her family members who have been so constant in these decades in seeking justice for her death.
We pray today for Clarence Dixon, who is to die tomorrow. We pray that what he can do to put his soul right by then he may be able to do. We pray that he may find a peace in death that he never knew in life.
And we pray today for ourselves, our nation, our culture, and our systems. We repent of the failures of our child welfare system and our mental healthcare system. We repent of the sin of violence, committed both by individuals and by our state. We repent that our criminal justice system is so broken by racism, by a lack of capacity for restorative justice and rehabilitation. And yet we give thanks for the civil servants and advocates who desire greater fairness and justice.
We pray all of this in the name of a God whose capacity to redeem sin is infinite, and whose love for all is infinite. Amen.
As I write today, Mr. Dixon has been executed. I invite your prayers for him, his victims, those involved in the execution, and for us all.