Adventist Church Leaders Ask for Mercy, Prayers for Death Row Adventist
Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders have asked for mercy for an Adventist on death row in Tennessee. Leaders are asking for church members to pray for Donnie Edward Johnson, scheduled to be executed on Thursday, May 16, 2019.
Johnson is on death row for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie Johnson. Johnson, 68, who suffocated his wife, has served 33 years on death row in a maximum-security prison in near Nashville, within 10 miles of the Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church where Johnson has been an ordained elder for more than a decade.
In a letter hand-delivered to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on May 13, Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N.C. Wilson writes, “I am told that [Mr. Johnson] has brought other prisoners to Christ, leading them to make a full surrender to God, and that this is having a positive influence throughout the prison and beyond.”
Wilson asks Lee to “prayerfully consider granting mercy to Mr. Johnson by sparing his life so he may continue providing this important spiritual ministry.”
Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America also sent a letter to Lee on May 13. Jackson, acknowledging the “vile crime” for which Johnson has been sentenced, writes that Johnson “turned his life around and now serves as a Christian mentor to his fellow prisoners. . . . The multiple lives he helped transform via his prison ministry are only a glimpse into the many potential lives he can touch and help transform.”
According to a May 9, 2019, Tennessean report by Holly Meyer, the letters are part of a series of appeals from church members and religious leaders who recognize Johnson’s apparent remorse and transformation. This group includes the Episcopal bishops of middle and east Tennessee.