Dr. James White
First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
20 St. Vrain
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903-1130
Greetings Dr. White:
I have been so touched by the outpouring of love from you and your congregation. You have embraced me as if I am one of your own and by God, that's the way it is supposed to be, isn't it.
I don't know if this would be a testimonial or not but during this whole process I have been asked and allowed to speak my heart on matters that have been guarded because of legal reasons or whatever. The whole time, neither you nor any members of your congregation have attempted to judge me or question me. You simply accepted me, not for what I had been condemned of doing, but for the person I had become. Whether you accepted me because Margery vouched for me or not, acceptance is still acceptance and it touches the heart all the same. Thank you.
I'm saying what I'm about to say out of love so I hope it's received that way. I don't speak about my spiritual beliefs because of my background. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and I spent 13 years of my life, knocking on people's doors, pursuing my classmates down the hall and walking up to strangers, trying to convince them that my religions, my way of thinking and believing was the only true religion and if they didn't believe, then they were doomed. I walked around with a little smug self-assurance that I had a secret that they didn't because I knew I was going to live in paradise and they were going to be destroyed. And then I learned that everything I had been taught to believe to be true, was not only inaccurate and manipulations of the Scriptures, but outright lies in some instances. I was disillusioned for some time but I kept searching because I've always felt God's hand on me. I can't really explain that statement but I just felt it.
When this crime occurred and I came here, I began to search anew. I've been preparing for my clemency petition since l987. I've always known that it would come to this because God laid it on my heart then that my fate would not be on that gurney at the Walls Unit. But since faith without works is dead, I had to go about making a change inside and out. Out meaning, it had to be in a way that others could see it. He gave me the gift of my art.
One of the reporters came to see me last week and was questioning me about my art sales and the Muderabilia Law. I expressed to him that my art doesn't celebrate death, it celebrates life. I'm not proud to be here on death row so the last thing I want to be recognized for is for the most despicable act I've ever done. I don't do "prison art." My art allows me to escape this place and connect with the beauty that I see in all of God's creations. I do flowers and animals because their beauty is so pure.
The other thing--the most important thing--that connects us to God is love. God is love. Simple.Pure. Accurate. If I've learned anything else in life, I've learned how to love. True, my love for my brother was misguided to say the least. But it was love.
The art attracts people because they see God in it but when they write or make contact with me, they can also feel that love, and it's pure and unconditional. Love is the essence of God and the closest we will ever be to Him in human form. I would not be able to have the peace I do without God being an integral part of my life.
Faith? Faith is what got me here. Without faith, I may have given up a long time ago, but I know God has a plan for me. There are very few people who are fortunate enough to know what their purpose in life is. I knew l7 years ago that my situation would change the way the clemency process is viewed in Texas. Faith has led me to be and become all that I am and faith in His plan is what has allowed me to be blessed with people all over the world actively working and many, many more praying that my sentence be commuted. That's what can be seen, but the real message is the restoration of mercy to the criminal justice system. The real message is restoration and transformation. The real message is belief in the inherent human ability to change.
Faith is what allows me to sit here now and spend this time with you instead of being balled up on my bunk, crying or pulling my hair...uh, well, you know what I mean. I could be paralyzed with fear, but I'm not because I know that no matter what happens Thursday, I've been able to touch the world with a gift that God gave me and how cool is that?
I thank you all for extending your love to me. I've always considered Colorado Springs my home. When God called me home, it was to First Congregational. Thank you all for being my church family.
Please keep me and my family and friends here in your thoughts and prayers Thursday. I will write to you again soon.
Dr. White, I don't know if it would be appropriate to read my letter to the congregation, but it would mean a great deal to me if you would.
James V. Allridge III
Margery R. Layton