Members in North America Asked to Pray Regarding Adventist on Death Row in Indiana

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a complex family, made up of many different types of people — all of which have fallen short of God’s glory but have the possibility to receive grace through His redemptive love. Like most families, we sometimes face troubled times. One of our members is now facing such a huge challenge. Brandon Bernard is a death row prisoner facing execution at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday, December 10. Bernard was convicted of a vicious crime committed in 1999, but now people involved in his conviction, including one of the prosecutors who fought to maintain Bernard’s conviction and sentence on appeal, are seeking clemency to change his sentence from death to one of life in prison. You can find out more about the facts involved in this case by watching this news report by CBS News. Recent news on the case can also be found in this Indianapolis Star article.

Pastor Dwight Nelson, senior pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, introduced Bernard’s story during the church’s service last Sabbath (December 5). Click here to view Nelson’s message.

The leadership of the North American Division is appealing to members to pray for those involved in the decision regarding Bernard’s sentence; the families of the victims; and Bernard and his family as the scheduled execution draws near.

You can find out more about Brandon Bernard’s case at


This article was originally published by the North American Division and is reprinted here with permission.

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I have worked as a school psychologist in a California youth prison and as a classroom teacher in a California adult prison. My heart goes out to the victims and now to Brandon Bernard. I have found that people can and do change their thinking and their behavior. I would plead the case that Brandon’s life should be spared.

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I too feel for the family/families of the victims. However, I believe that we Christians should urge that our political representatives not compound the situation by taking another life. And we as Adventists should not be embarrassed when one of our own does shocking things. We are here as followers of Jesus and need to try to act as he acted, as he would act here. I am an Australian, and remember the last execution there–over 60 years ago. Why is there more blood-lust here in the USA?


That is the right question!


For those of you who have not heard, Brandon 's life was taken at the hand of our country. It is one more reminder that the vindictiveness of our society is unrelenting. The eye for and eye has once again left us all blind. So sad.

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on the other hand, todd and stacie bagley really are dead…their only crime was to innocently agree to give brandon and his companions a ride…as youth ministers, the bagley’s lives would have blessed countless young people had brandon and his friends not cavalierly decided that they needed to die…and let’s understand that their deaths, for which they had no time to prepare, was a lot more gruesome, frightening and agonizing than the death brandon received…

the call of our church, and in particular NAD, to pray for brandon was misguided and unfortunate…brandon may have reformed, and it is true that he likely would not have been a repeat offender…but the point is, two innocent people were killed, and justice, one of the pillars of a free society, must be allowed to mean something…the bagley’s lives cannot be swept under a carpet of meaninglessness, and forgotten…

society, looking on, must understand that murder, under any circumstances, is a terrible thing that cannot be tolerated…lifelong support from the state, which incarceration for life essentially represents, doesn’t teach this lesson effectively…is it a terrible thing that brandon lost his life humanely at the hands of the state…then it’s also a terrible thing that the bagley’s lost their lives at the hands of brandon and his friends in a vicious theft and murder, whom the bagley’s generously thought they were helping…


Lay the murder of Brandon where it truely belongs, the vindictive malignant narcissism of the trump administration! I doubt this comment will be posted by the ‘moderators’.


Mr. Bernard knew full well what he was doing at the time and what the consequences would be when he was caught. I’ve been a jail minister at our county jail for 20 years. I have ministered to several Bernard’s. Only one has been executed. All have had the opportunity to get right with God and receive His grace as they wait for their earthly judgement day.

I commend those that worked with him. I feel they can expect to meet with him in the earth made new. God spared this persons life long enough to give him a second chance. The Bagley’s are martyrs in my opinion.

Capitol punishment has it’s roots in a book called the Bible. There is no life in prison according to what is written there. When Jesus returns no commuted sentences. For those of you who are in the valley of decision please take this under advisement.

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i don’t think we can call the execution of brandon a murder…capital punishment is terrible now, just as it was in the OT, but it is still punishment…murder, on the other hand, is something very different…the murder victim does nothing to deserve his or her death…

we can see, in this instance, that god did not answer the prayers of the no doubt thousands of NAD adventist who misguidedly prayed for brandon’s life to be spared…why was this…perhaps it was because sparing the life of a murderer isn’t god’s will, as he explains to us in the bible:

“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:6.

The article does not detail the robbery nor the killings, but the links provided do. The Bagley couple were shot and killed by Christopher Vialva, who has already been executed for this crime. He planned a robbery that ended in deaths, but Brandon Bernard neither killed anyone nor planned this robbery, yet was executed anyway. Since 1973, over 160 persons have been executed thay were later exonerated. As far as costs are concerned, it is more costly due to court appeals for death sentences than just life imprisonment.
To address the alleged misguided initiative of the members of the North American Division to pray for saving a life, expresses an attitude and opinion on your part. Since God did not intervene on a life not guilty of murder yet executed by premeditated murder by this administration, perhaps you care to explain why Abel was not spared from his fate at the hand of Cain, or the untold number of martyrs during the dark ages, or even of Christ Himself the Redeemer of Israel at the hand of the corrupt clergy of His time instead of by Rome?

christopher shot the bagley’s with brandon’s gun, who did nothing to stop the shooting…brandon, with another friend, purchased and applied lighter fluid to the car in order to create the fire that is part of the criminality in this case…to say that brandon was innocent of this horrific double murder, when he did nothing as the bagley’s pleaded for their lives after being forced into the trunk of their car, is a bit rich…

Genesis 9:6 says to us that it is god’s will for a murderer to be executed by the state…this is what the state was doing…our church should be in the business of amplifying the law, and making it honourable…to sweep justice under the carpet isn’t amplifying the law, or making it honourable…

the better response from NAD should have been to encourage our church to pray for faith to believe that if brandon had effectively claimed christ as his saviour, like cain, the martyrs, and the thief on the cross, he will be with christ in paradise…

Again, Brandon did not kill anyone, however, since you agree with his condemnation to death, would you apply the same judgement to the cowardly senate republicans as accomplices who acquitted a fake potus guilty of quid pro quo, defying all obvious evidence in their bogus circus trial?

To apply the OT theocracy to a 21 century democracy is an error many Adventists haven’t seemed to grapple. God chose judges and prophets in the experiment of a theocratic OT Israel. They blew it when they crucified their Redeemer, ( read Daniel) hence, the NT kingdom of grace and call to repentence. To apply a theocracy, structured as an authoritative top down government, to a democratic republic, structured as a bottom up elective system by the people, is no doubt a serious flawed understanding of civics. If you think America is to be like Israel, then fire all congress, dismiss the presidency, disban the supreme court, and ask God to appoint prophets and judges. This will never happen because God already said, My kingdom is NOT of this world. So to apply OT laws of God to a secular nation shows utter ignorance of the Bible and God’s will. This is a great failure of the Adventist ministry who probably could care less to educate their flock.

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no, i would not…the GOP senators who failed to impeach trump didn’t murder anyone…they don’t therefore deserve to be executed as murderers…but i agree that their action was not only cowardly, but antithetical to the constitution and the very notion of democracy…i would say that each one of them deserve to be defeated in the next election…

at the time that Genesis 9:6 was proclaimed, israel wasn’t a theocracy…this is because israel didn’t yet exist…in fact there were only 8 people on the planet, most of whom would have eventually generated the nations outside of israel…given that the world was in this primal state, reminiscent of eden, proclamations by god were meant for all of humanity, irrespective of culture or government choice, in the same way that his proclamation of the sanctity of the seventh-day sabbath was meant to extend to the entire human race…

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