Church leaders united in demand for mercy

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Update (29/4): Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad along with six others on Wednesday 29 April at approximately 3.25am (AEST) on the island of Nusakambangan. Mary Jane Veloso was also due to be executed at this time but received a reprieve. In a late development, Indonesian authorities allowed Chan and Sukumaran to have their chosen spiritual guides with them in their final moments.

In 2006, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australian men who were part of what became known as the “Bali Nine”, were convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia. The pair are due to be executed, along with seven other people, early on Wednesday morning.

The leaders of the Uniting Church in Australia have joined together in Brisbane for a time of prayer and lament over these executions.

“As Christians we simply must stand for mercy,” says Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, the President of the Uniting Church in Australia. “Our belief leads us to the inevitable conclusion that it is wrong for any government or institution to arbitrarily cut short a person’s life. It is a cruel and inhuman punishment which denies the hope of reform."

The Church’s leaders called for a global end to the death penalty.

“It is wrong in the United States, in China, in Iran, in Indonesia – it is wrong everywhere it is practised. The Uniting Church in Australia opposes capital punishment wherever it exists,” says Andrew.

The six Uniting Church Moderators present at the meeting each provided their own insight on the current situation in Indonesia:

Rev David Baker (Qld): “No one is beyond God’s love. Our rejection of capital punishment rests on our belief that every person is created in the image of God and can find redemption in Jesus Christ.”

Rev Myung Hwa Park (NSW/ACT): “The faces of the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran as they farewell their loved ones speak to the inhumanity and the tragedy of the death penalty.”

Stuart McMillan (NT, President-Elect): “All life is precious in God’s eyes. Jesus told his followers to be merciful just as God is merciful. Our duty to show mercy and to encourage others to be merciful becomes clearer to us every day.”

Dr Deidre Palmer (SA): “True justice exists where there is peace and reconciliation. The death penalty is a violent act which denies the hope of reconciliation and so denies justice.”

Dan Wootton (Vic/Tas): ““These two [pastors] have travelled the journey with Andrew and Myuran. They have prayed with them and cried with them. Now in the final moments of their pastoral duty, their care is being denied [access to them].”

Rev Steve Francis (WA): “Even in countries with the most robust and transparent legal systems, grave errors can be made and people wrongly convicted. We know that innocent, often disadvantaged people have been wrongly executed.”

We offer prayer for those affected by the imminent executions in Bali.

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