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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Journey of Hope - Delmarva Peacework

April- May 2002
    The Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing co-founders, Bill Pelke and George White, will be in Delaware from April 10-14.  During this time, they will be speaking to the general public, members of the faith community, to students, and to persons with loved ones on death row.  Their visit to the First State is being coordinated by Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty.
    On Wednesday, April 10, Bill and George will give a public presentation at 7:30 p.m. at the Wilmington Friends Meeting at 4th and West Streets in Wilmington.  This event will be preceded by a potluck at 6:30, and anyone wishing to attend is welcome.  Please bring food to share if you are planning to come to the potluck.
    The next night, April 11, at 6:00 p.m., Bill Pelke will speak at St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in Bethany Beach, DE. and George will talk at 7 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, 15 Gender Road, Newark.

Bill Pelke

Bill Pelke’s 78-year-old grandmother Ruth taught Bible lessons to neighborhood children in Gary, Indiana.  On May 14, 1985, four ninth grade girls from the local high school came to her door, asking about the lessons, and she invited them in.  One grabbed a vase and hit her over the head.  Another pulled a knife out of her purse and began to stab her.  Ruth was stabbed a total of 33 times.  While one of the girls held the knife inside her, the other ransacked her house.  They ended up with $10 and her ten year-old car.
    A year later, one of the girls, Paula Cooper, was sentenced to death for the crime.  She had been 15 when the murder occurred, and at 16 became the youngest female on death row in America.  Originally supportive of Paula’s death sentence, Bill eventually forgave Paula, began corresponding and visiting with her, and worked to overturn her sentence.  She is now serving 60 years in prison.  Bill is the President and co-founder of the Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing.

George White

    George White and his wife Charlene were at George’s business in Enterprise, Alabama on February 27, 19985 when an armed robber came in and repeatedly shot them.  George held Charlene in his arms as her life slipped away.  Their children, Tom and Christie, were only 12 and 5 at the time.
    The nightmare had just begun.  Sixteen months later, George was charged with murdering his wife.  Following a capital murder trial that was later described as “a mockery and a sham,” George was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  His conviction was overturned in 1989 and he was released from prison, but George remained in legal limbo until 1992, when proof of his innocence was finally brought forward.  Following a brief hearing the trial court ordered the charge against him forevermore dismissed.
    The nightmare had lasted more than seven years…had the State of Alabama had its way, George White would be a dead man today.  Understanding fully how easy it is to become an advocate for revenge, the White family, however, rejects the death penalty as a solution and as a way of healing the wounds of their loss.  George is a cofounder of The Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing.
    Do not miss this opportunity to hear Bill and George’s messages of compassion, forgiveness, healing, and opposition to the death penalty.  Their personal stories are powerful and have much to teach us as we continue to seek healing in the aftermath of September 11th.
    The events on April 10 and 11 are all open to the public.  There is no admission fee, but a free will offering will be taken at each program to help defray the expenses of the Journey of Hope.  For more information, call DE Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty at 302-656-2721.