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A RESPONSE TO THE 2022 RESOLUTION ON THE DEATH PENALTY | 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly

By The Rev. Lisa Isenhower

The 2022 SynodAssembly passed a resolution called “Resolution on a Faithful Approach tothe Death Penalty in South Carolina.” The resolution called for the SynodCouncil and the Criminal Justice Task Force to lead the synod in study ofcriminal justice and the death penalty in order to equip congregations toaddress criminal justice issues in general and the death penalty in particularby engaging our state legislators.

The original taskforce included Pr. Reggie Cruse (chair), Pr. Fred Klinker, Dr. Dennis Lambriesof Newberry College, Mr. Bill Kendig, Pr. Don Costlow, Pr. Beth Costlow, andPr. Emily Hartmann. Pr. Michael Price was invited to attend on behalf ofReference and Counsel and became a member of the task force. After theresignation of Mr. Kendig and Prs. Costlow, Pr. Jason Schafer joined the taskforce. Synod Director of Communications Neal Fischer and United Methodistminister Pr. Hillary Taylor have also contributed significantly to the work of the task force.

The task forcepresented its response to the resolution at the 2023 Synod Assembly, in theform of a brief video. (The longer video is available at The video references the 1991 ELCA Social Statement “The Death Penalty: AnIssue for Moral Deliberation,” which (like all ELCA Social Statements) is ateaching document, intended to be informative rather than prescriptive. Thisvideo offers a biblical perspective on the death penalty and ample food forthought for anyone interested in learning more about our church’s stance on thedeath penalty.

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