Episcopal cathedral in Arkansas to hold prayer vigil on eve of executions

[Trinity Episcopal Cathedral press release] Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will hold a special “Service of Prayer and Vigil on the Eve of Executions” at 6 p.m. April 20.

Our prayers and music for this solemn occasion are Easter-themed. They will be for the men sentenced to death and their loved ones, for the victims of the acts for which they have been sentenced and their loved ones, and for those who must execute these sentences. For all of these, and for ourselves, we will pray for hope, for strength, and for mercy.

Death row inmates Bruce Ward(top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided March 21, 2017. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/REUTERS

This service will take place whether or not executions go forward on Thursday night. The uncertainty itself calls for prayerful attention.

If the executions now planned for this Thursday do take place as scheduled, then following worship, participants are invited to keep a silent candlelight vigil in the Cathedral, continuing up to the moment of execution, at which time Cathedral tower bells will toll.

Guests at the service are expected to include some members of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, who plan to make the short walk to the gate of the Governor’s Mansion, and keep a candlelight vigil there.

If the executions now scheduled for Monday, April 24, and Thursday, April 27, take place, we will have a brief ecumenical service each of those nights at 6 p.m., followed by candlelight vigil in the Cathedral culminating in the toll of bells.

The services and vigils are offered for the public and all are welcome. To let the emphasis be on prayer, we ask that no photographs or video be taken inside the church.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located at 310 W. 17th St., in Little Rock.


  1. Tony Oberdorfer says:

    The repeated eagerness of the Episcopal Church to flaunt its unwillingness to recognize the line between church and state is truly contemptible and hardly worth further comment since it is so obvious.

    • Sandy Kimmelman says:

      As caring humans, we should be aware of the emotional turmoil that is caused by any death. We can always use prayer to comfort and heal those who are affected. That we have “the church” to offer a place for us to gather and pray, gather and care for others, is not a matter of state and church but rather a way to handle those places in our lives that cause, and should cause, disruption. If we turn cold hearts to our social unrest, we will soon turn cold hearts to each and all of us. Thank you to any community of faith that highlights and helps to mend those things that cause pain to anyone.

    • Susan Carter says:

      The Church has always understood the need for social justice, arising from the teachings of Jesus Christ. (Do note the verb I believe you were seeking is “to flout” and not “to flaunt.”)

  2. Joe Parrish says:

    Much has been written about the value or lack of value of executions in reducing terminal acts; many states have begun to see the issues which are inherent in these cases and have stopped executing for the time being. The companies which make the two or three drugs usually used have petitioned to stop their use for these cases as medical results are very sketchy about their effectiveness and even the order in which they should be administered to cause death. There is something inherently inhuman in causing someone’s death, so the views about how to inhibit murder are important and still not well understood. The church does well to pray for better ways.

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