Gissendaner at her graduation in 2011.On March 1, students, faculty, staff and alumni from Candler School of Theology and the Emory and Atlanta communities gathered in Cannon Chapel for a Vigil of Life, Light and Solidarity for Kelly Gissendaner, Georgia’s only female death row inmate who is scheduled to be executed on March 2.

Many Candler students, alumni and faculty worked with Gissendaner in the Certificate for Theological Studies program at Lee Arrendale State Prison, a yearlong academic program sponsored in part by Candler School of Theology and founded by Candler's Associate Professor of Christian Ethics Elizabeth M. Bounds and alumna Susan Bishop. Gissendaner completed the program in 2011, and spoke at her graduation.

"The theology program has shown me that hope is still alive and that, despite a gate or a guillotine hovering over my head, I still possess the ability to prove that I am human,” Gissendaner said in her speech. “Labels on anyone can be notoriously misleading and unforgiving things. But no matter the label attached to me, I have the capacity and the unstoppable desire to accomplish something positive and to have a lasting impact. Let us put off hatred and envy and put on love and compassion.”

A group of students and supporters delivered 40,000 petitions asking for a stay of execution to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office on the morning of Monday, March 2. The number of signers has since swelled to more than 55,000, and continues to grow. To sign the petition, visit For real-time updates on the situation, join the Facebook group Kelly Gissendaner - #kellyonmymind.

Update: Gissendaner's March 2 execution was delayed indefinitely due to concerns about the drug to be used in the lethal injection.

Related media coverage:

The New York Times

NBC News

WXIA-TV, 11 Alive


United Methodist News Service

Related blog posts:

Alisha Gordon on The Huffington Post

Melissa Browning on The Huffington Post

Jeff Hood on Rev. Jeff Hood

Jeania Ree Moore on The Huffington Post

Jacqueline Holness on After the Altar Call

Danny Gulden on Rev. Danny Gulden

Lisa Caine onAthens Banner Herald

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Kelly Gissendaner