Friday, July 27, 2007

In Memory of Harmon Wray

Harmon Wray, a tireless crusader to end the death penalty, suffered a massive stroke Sunday and was removed from life support Monday. Harmon was an organizing member of TCASK and has been relentless in his work to end the death penalty in our state. Harmon was a champion for prison reform and upholding the dignity of those who are incarcerated. Visitation will be Friday evening, July 27 at Edgehill UMC (15th and Edgehill Ave.) from 6pm to 8pm. The Memorial Service will be Saturday morning, July 28 at 10 a.m. at Belmont UMC (2007 Acklen Ave). The Harmon Wray Fund has been set up at Edgehill United Methodist Church which will be used to continue Harmon's prison ministry life work. Please write checks to Edgehill United Methodist Church noting that the gift is for The Harmon Wray Fund and send it to:

Edgehill United Methodist Church
The Harmon Wray Fund
PO Box 128258
Nashville, TN 37212

As a teacher and author, he educated countless numbers of people concerning the myriad problems with our current criminal justice system. As adjunct faculty of Vanderbilt Divinity School, Harmon created and coordinated a class at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, comprised of both Vanderbilt students and inmates. Harmon was also a founder of the Restorative Justice Coalition of Tennessee, seeking to transform the current criminal justice system from a system primarily focused on punishment to one which facilitates healing and restoration. Most recently, he authored, Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for our Failed Prison System.

Harmon was formerly with the Tennessee Conference Correctional Ministries staff of the Methodist Church and the General Board of Mission. Harmon continued to be an active member of Edgehill United Methodist Church.

Harmon Wray followed the way of Jesus to the end, still giving of himself, even in death as an organ donor. He took Jesus' call to visit the prisoner to heart and spent his life as a fierce advocate for those who are incarcerated. I count him as a mentor and a friend, and today my heart is very heavy as I cannot imagine the world without him. Still, I know that Harmon's spirit will remain with us and will continue to inspire all of us as we struggle together to end the death penalty in Tennessee.

This past Sunday night at a dinner, Harry and Karan Simpson took this picture of Harmon. It is a beautiful picture that captures the grace and good will that he emanated every day of his life. It can be found HERE.

Stacy Rector

Executive Director
Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing
PO Box 120552
Nashville, TN 37212


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