‘Faith and the Death Penalty’ program Thursday at MCC-Penn Valley

Five local religious leaders will discuss “Faith and the Death Penalty” at a program Thursday, Nov. 12, on the MCC-Penn Valley campus.

just mercy bookThe event is tied to the Penn Valley campus’s Common Read book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, who as a young lawyer represented poor clients in the South and went on to co-found the Equal Justice Initiative.

The program, 11 to 11:50 a.m. Thursday in Education Center Room 19 (and open to the public), will feature:

+ Rev. Vern Barnet, founder of the Kansas City Interfaith Council and a former Kansas City Star columnist who has long worked on social justice issues.

+ Pete Machik Potts, ordained Buddhist minister and a founder of Temple Buddhist Center’s Prison Dharma program.

+ Dr. Mahmoud Bishr, MCC life sciences and biology instructor who has done volunteer work in jails for more than a decade.

+ Helen Stringer, who earned a degree in pastoral studies before realizing she couldn’t support any religious ideologies. She works for Kansas City Oasis, a nonprofit that assists young families in crisis.

+ Dr. Robert Lee Hill, minister emeritus of Community Christian Church, Kansas City, and co-chair of the Martin Luther King Interfaith Service since 1991.

In its review of “Just Mercy,” the New York Times wrote that the book’s “narrative backbone is the story of Walter McMillian, whom Stevenson began representing in the late 1980s when he was on death row for killing a young white woman in Monroe­ville, Ala., the hometown of Harper Lee.”