A total of nearly 3,000 people joined an online prayer vigil held for Julius Jones on Tuesday night. Clergy members from across Oklahoma hosted the event, which streamed live on the Justice for Julius Facebook page. Minister Keith Jossell opened the event by reminding viewers that “Julius is now in his 27th day on Oklahoma’s death watch”.
“It’s as terrorizing and traumatizing as it actually sounds,” Jossell said.
“Julius is being physically and mentally terrorized. His lights are kept on 24/7 and each week he is moved one cell closer to the lethal injection chamber.”
“But we declare today,” Jossell continued, “that the decision regarding Julius Darius Jones is a spiritual matter.”
Pastors share stories from scripture to call for justice and mercy
More than a dozen clergy members from cities and towns throughout the state offered prayers for Julius’s safety and wisdom and discernment from Governor Stitt.
One of those pastors, Sean Jarrett of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Tulsa, invoked the story of Moses.
“Moses went to remind Pharoah of God’s recommendation,” Jarrett said. “It’s time to let God’s people go.”
“Governor Stitt,” Jarrett said, “I’ve come in the tradition of Moses tonight and I’ve come to remind you that it’s now time to let God’s son, Julius Darius Jones, go.”
Dr. Eric Gill of Metropolitan Baptist Church shared the story of Pontious Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus.
“Pontious Pilate is a primary example in the Bible of what not to do,” Gill said. “Pilate’s position gave him the power to choose life or death. His position gave him the power to choose mercy or murder, restitution or execution. And, instead of making a principled decision, he made a political decision, based off the chants of a crowd that was on Monday chanting ‘Hosanna’ but on Friday chanting ‘crucify him’.”
“Governor Stitt,” Gill continued, “we admonish you, with the power and position you’ve been given, not to be Pontious Pilate, but to choose life. Because justice demands it.”
Clergy dismiss claims of politics in fight for Julius’s life: This is not a political agenda, “this is God’s agenda”
Reverend Dr. Shannon Fleck, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, rebuffed narratives that politics are driving the effort to free Julius Jones.
Fleck quoted a post written by Justice for Julius leader CeCe Jones-Davis, which read “this is nobody’s agenda. It’s not a liberal agenda. It’s not a right wing, left wing, celebrity-driven agenda. This is God’s agenda.”
Notions that the effort to save Julius’s life is part of a “liberal” agenda is refuted by an outpouring of support for commutation from conservatives in recent weeks. Still, state leaders like unelected Attorney General O’Connor are reportedly urging the Governor to execute Jones.
“Governor Stitt,” Fleck said, “We know that you are a man of faith. You’re on record as a man of faith, and so we call upon that faith to burn fire in your heart for justice.”
Julius’ family thanks supporters and asks for ongoing action as the execution date draws near
“We did not have this 22 years ago,” Antionette Jones, Julius’s sister said. “Twenty-two years ago it was just that we wanted Julius’s story to get out and his voice to be heard,” she said, “but God. But God that he brought all walks of life together” to fight for justice for Julius.
Antoinette then directed her message to Governor Stitt, who met with the Howell family, but not with the Jones family.
“To the honorable Governor,” Jones said. “I don’t need to meet with you for God to do what he’s going to do. I know you are a man of God. I know you have a big, heavy weight on your shoulders, but I know your works. God is talking to you – listen to Him.”
Antoinette went on to thank the Pardon and Parole Board members who voted for commutation “for seeing the human in Julius”.
“Julius Darius Jones is coming home,” she said. “We’re going to prophecy that, we’re going to claim that and we’re going to receive that.”
Julius’s mother, Madeline, also spoke, saying “I would like to just hold my baby boy.”
“I thank you all for spending a little bit of your time,” she said to supporters. “That mustard seed that has grown and flourished into a big, strong tree. I appreciate your love; it just overjoys me.”
Mrs. Jones then quoted John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
“When I was carrying Julius, at the time I didn’t understand but I see it in my latter days,” she said. “There’s so many people that told me they didn’t believe in God” before their fight for Julius. “But now,” she said, “they do.”
Faith leaders call for prayer, fasting and action as world waits for governor’s decision
“Oklahoma, my prayer tonight is that we would know the true meaning of fasting and prayer,” said Cece Jones-Davis.
“We have to pray with our knocking, we have to pray with our walking. We have to pray, even at inconvenient times.”
Jones-Davis continued, “We have to upset those who have the power, even when it is inconvenient,” because that is what’s required.
The pastor and lead organizer of the Justice for Julius campaign urged Oklahomans to set their own needs aside and fight for others. “It’s not about us or just what’s happening in our homes, but it’s about how we loose the bonds of chains.”
“I pray we can be more like Christ,” Jones-Davis said, “not in what we say, but in what we do.”
Minister Jossell closed the meeting by also calling on Oklahomans to pray and act consistently.
“This is on all of us to join with God in his liberation of Julius Jones,” Jossell said, stressing the urgency of the moment.
“We need you to be praying all day long,” he said. “Ask God to convict and compel the heart of our governor to do justice, show mercy and walk humbly.”
“We believe in the word of God, that he does have the final say,” Jossell said as he closed.
“I know, God, that You can do anything. And no one, no one can stop you.”