Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice James Exum Jr. will highlight the first annual conference of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty in Asheville Nov. 11-12. Judge Exum will join a group of state, regional and local speakers, including Frank Goldsmith, Janet Moore and Monroe Gilmour of Asheville, and the Rev. Joyce Hollyday of Brevard, who will lead workshops during the event, to be held in the First Baptist Church.
The conference will begin with a plenary session at 9 a.m. Nov. 11 featuring a welcome by Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick and a speech by Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Alfred Rivera, who spent two years on death row before being acquitted, also will speak at the session.
Fifteen workshops on the death penalty and surrounding issues led by legal and religious leaders will be offered in three sessions, from 10:25 to 11:55, 2:00 to 3:30, and 3:45 to 5:15.
The awards dinner will begin at 6:30; tickets are $25 and scholarships are available. Registration for the conference will be accepted before Nov. 11 by calling Stephen Dear, 919-933-7365, or Noel Nickel, 818-252-9912.
Registrations also will be accepted from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Nov. 11. The conference cost is $20. Dinner reservations must be made by Nov. 1. Judge Exum will give the keynote address at a Saturday evening banquet at the church. During the dinner, the Rev. W.W. Finlaltor, pastor emeritus of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, will receive the Rev. Robert E. Seymour Award for his 40 years of work as one of North Carolina's leading social justice and civil rights advocates.
The conference will conclude with an interfaith rally at City-County Plaza from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.
Noel Nickle, local conference organizer, said, "We're excited to host people from across the state for what we think will be an uplifting and energizing event. We're eager to have many people join us for all or any part of the weekend's activities."
People of Faith Against the Death Penalty has been leading "N.C. Moratorium Now," a campaign calling for a halt of executions. To date, more than 80 resolutions for a moratorium have been adopted by seven local governments, including Charlotte, Durham and Greensboro, and congregations, businesses and community groups.
(For more information, call Noel Nickel, 252-9912. News release written and sent by the Rev. Robert Spangler, 684-6885.)