Thursday, 31 January 2013

Fetzer Awards to NGO`s Furthering Love and Forgiveness

Friends, in the last blog I mentioned exiting days ahead for the Journey of Hope.

One of the most exciting things about the Journey of Hope for me began when I came across an article called:

Fetzer Awards to NGOs Furthering Love, Forgiveness

Anybody that knows me or the Journey knows that would get my attention. The article can be found at: and I have copied it here.

The Fetzer Institute is creating a tangible incentive and recognition for non-governmental organizations whose work furthers love and forgiveness--a pair of $25,000 awards and exposure via a global, web-based competition. Asking, "What in the world are YOU doing?" the program will honor an NGO within the United States and one from elsewhere in the world.

The purpose of the activity is much broader than just identifying a pair of recipients, said Fetzer Board Chairman Rob Lehman. "There’s a whole invisible community that’s already doing the work," Lehman said, "and part of our role is to make that community visible."

Philanthropy defined means "love for humanity," so there’s certainly no shortage of worthy candidates. The event seeks nonprofits who demonstrate "the joyful giving of oneself to transform other people’s lives."

Information on the international, web-based awards is available at

The competition is part of the Fetzer Institute’s broader effort to build awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community. As such, organizers hope submissions will demonstrate the connection between love and action by these groups, and the fostering of forgiveness by the work itself. Entries will be displayed online in a Global Gallery of videos, photos, and other information for the perusal of web visitors and judges.

Deadline for submission is Jan. 31, 2013, with public voting open from Feb. 1 until Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. A panel of judges from the Fetzer Institute and its NGO Advisory Council will select the winners of the $25,000 awards to be announced in March 2013. A third prize of $5,000 will go to the entry that receives the most love from the online voting process.

"I think they can help us round out our understanding of love and forgiveness in ways that we could not dream in a million years," added Fetzer CEO Lawrence E. Sullivan.

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Non-Govermmental Organizations.

Additional External Resources & Multimedia

Tell Us World web site

Journey of Hope board member Anne Feczko wrote the application explaining the Journey philosophy of love, compassion and forgiveness for all of humanity. Emmy award winning Micki Dickoff produced an excellent 5 minute video with the concept of love, compassion and forgiveness cleverly woven throughout.


I would like for the Journey of Hope win the award of $25,000 dollars and I think we have a chance, but you could help us win the third prize $5000 for the entry that receives the most love from the online voting process.

Could you share this with your network friends? $5,000 would be such a wonderful blessing.

Info on the upcoming Indiana Journey of Hope Feb 22-March 10, the 5 th World Congress in Madrid, June 12 - 15, the annual Fast and Vigil, June 29 -July 2 in front of the US Supreme Court and so much more, hopefully soon.

I would like to give a public thank you to Micki Dickoff and Probono Productions for presenting the Journey of Hope when we were at our best. We are at our best when we are talking about love, compassion and forgiveness. Micki, YOU are the Greatest, and I know that you are most loved. I hope your film is too. NESHOBA is one of Micki’s works

And friends, please help us win the most loved award.

Please share this with your friends.

Till next time,

Love and Peace,


Sunday, 27 January 2013

         January 22, 2013

Hello again,

I had a goal of doing a lot more writing for the blog this year but it has been some days since I have written.

My father, Robert C. Pelke joined his personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on January 10th .

He is now a part of that great host of witnesses in Heaven above.
I offered an eulogy at his funeral. I have copied it here.

I am on an airplane headed from Alaska to South Carolina. My father is dying. He had a major stroke about 12 hours ago and is in a coma and they say he will not come out of it. He is 93 years old. I hope I get to South Carolina and see him before he dies. But it is more than likely he will be in Heaven with his creator by the time I arrive. I want to see mom and I want to see my sister. Dottie has been the perfect sister in my eyes, helping take care of mom and dad these many years. I am so grateful for everything that Dottie and her family have done for them.

I always knew that someday I would get that call, but I wasn’t ready for it. When I saw my niece Kim had called I was hoping it was about my scheduled upcoming trip to Prosperity, SC next month when I was to parent sit for mom and dad because Dottie and her daughter Kim are taking Sean, Kim’s son to Florida to look at a college he is likely to attend next year. I often expected bad news when I would see Kim’s number, esp. if it was unexpected call. Kim is the one who always passes on to me medical news about mom and dad.

The message was that dad had a stroke.

Kim’s brother Scott is a family doctor in the Columbia area. I talked to my nephew about six hours ago and he told me that it was just a matter of time.

So, I have been thinking a lot about my dad the last few hours. My dad has been good man. He loves his family and he loves his God. He will soon be in God’s presence. I will soon be saying Father, into thy hands I commend my father’s spirit

I was so looking forward to parent sitting. I have so enjoyed the visits I have taken to see my mom and dad. The added bonus is that they live with my sister Dottie and her husband Frank and all her kids and grandkids live nearby, except Andy who lives in California.

My dad loved to listen to books that were on tape. He especially loved mysteries and Parry Mason was one of his favorites. I used to just sit on the couch and listen to them with him for hours at a time.

He could not see well. He only has peripheral vision. He would tell people that he could see everything but what he was looking at. For football games he would sit in a wheel chair that sat ride to the side of the TV. He could see the different colors of uniforms and see them moving. He really loved to see the movement and hear the announcers describe the plays.

My dad was a faithful man. I don’t know for sure but would bet my dad was at church last Sunday. He was always there. I am sure that whenever his pastor saw dad wasn’t there, he knew that something was wrong. My dad has been extremely faithful to every church he has attended.

I was so proud to post on facebook back in September how my parents had celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. I didn’t think or want it to be their last. I have had so many thoughts of my dad today it would be impossible to recall them all.

But he is a good man, and his father Oscar was a good man before him. Both men were highly respected at work, church, community and in the family. Granddad and my dad were two excellent examples that God placed in my life. I thank Him for that.

On a terrible day in 1985 my father found my grandmothers body the day after she had been brutally stabbed to death. I watched my father during the wake and the funeral. He greeted people, talked with them and prayed with them. He was the son that my granddad raised him to be. I don’t know how he was able to do it but I was never so proud watching how he carried himself during that horrible time.

I do know the last thing I said to my dad was "I love you dad." That is how I ended every phone conversation. On this occasion it was on Christmas day. He responded by saying "I love you honey".

There is so much I want to say to him. I had planned on filming conversations with my dad on my I-phone and spending hours talking about his life history. I mostly was looking forward to hearing stories from him, but there were a few things I had wanted to talk about for years and thought I would get that chance next month.

When I arrived to the hospital in Columbia my father was still alive. I was able to spend the last two and one half hours of his life with him. I am so grateful to have made it there before he died.

I did find out that my dad had attended church the Sunday before he died. In fact he attended the morning and evening services. Yes, that was my dad, a faithful at the age of 93.

On Monday night he watched the National Championship Bowl game when Alabama Crimson Tide beat his long time Purdue rivalry Notre Dame. He enjoyed the game immensely, went to sleep that night after the game and never woke up again.
Dad was greeted by the words of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, "Well done thou good and faithful servant:" Enter you into the joy of your Lord."

I thank God for the hundreds of prayers and best wishes that were sent my way. I felt your tremendous support and gathered strength that was needed to get through those extremely difficult days.

I will end this with full intention of writing much more soon about the Journey of Hope and what we are trying to accomplish in the near future. It is very exciting. At this moment I am very encouraged and I will be sharing with you why.

Peace, Bill

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Cruel and Unusual

Cruel and Unusual

I met Terri Steinberg in front of the US Supreme Court during the 9 th Annual Fast and Vigil against the death penalty in 2002. Terri’s 20 year old son Justin had just been sentenced to death by the state of Virginia. Terri was beside herself. She did not know what to do.She read about a group of people protesting the death penalty at the US Supreme Court and came to us looking for help.

We are doing all we can to help her, and Terri has become a valuable member of the Journey family.

Terri joined us for her first Journey of Hope tour in Ohio in 2003. She has participated in Journeys in Texas, Montana, Kentucky, Virginia and even Germany.

She has become a leading spokesperson for abolition of the death penalty. Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VAADP) has taken on Justin’s case and is working with Terri in her efforts to save Justin’s life.

Could you imagine having a son on death row even if he were guilty? We are convinced that Justin is innocent.

Justin was convicted of murder for hire. A young man named Owen Barber admitted that he had committed the murder, but was told he could escape the death penalty if he testified that Justin hired him to commit the murder. To save his own life, Owen testified against Justin. Owen was sentenced to 33 years in prison and Justin was sentenced to death. Justin has always maintained his innocence.

Cruel and Unusual

It has been a terrifying roller coaster ride for Terri. Ups and downs and ups and downs!!! A few years back Owen Barber admitted he lied in court against Justin but they could not get a court hearing to get the new evidence introduced. These were dark days.

I was with Terri in Germany on the day she saw a full ray of sunshine that brought her out of the depths of darkness. She received a phone call from Justin’s lawyers saying Justin’s appeals would be heard in court.

The hope I saw in Terri that day was more than wonderful. It was such a high for her. She cried and laughed and shook for about a half an hour. I am glad I was there to hold her. It had been so dark but she was seeing things in a much clearer light. Ray Krone, Terri and I were doing an 18 day tour in Germany in 2008 for Susanne Cardona and the German Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

On Christmas Eve a Federal Judge ordered that Justin be released by 5:00 pm on January 3, 2013 and banned prosecutors from trying him again. Terri’s response when asked how she felt about that news, said "the best Christmas present ever".


On Wednesday the 2nd the Chantilly Patch headline was "Judge: Justin Wolfe to be released Thursday" When a reporter asked Terri what would she do first with Justin? She said "feed him". Go mom.

I have never met, written or talked to Justin but I am aware that he loves the Washington Redskins. One of the few joys he has had on death row is when the Redskins win. I have come to find myself cheering for the Redskins so Justin can have some joy. The Skins have had a good year.

Terri was ready to have Justin come home. At about 3:00 PM on Thursday I saw this message sent out by VAADP.

UPDATE: Justin Wolfe Expected to Be Released Thursday at 5 p.m.

Once sentenced to death row, Chantilly man may soon be freed from custody.

The U.S. District Court and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals have denied the Commonwealth's appeals regarding Justin Wolfe.

Without intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Wolfe is expected to be released at 5 p.m. today By Dusty Smith Chantilly Patch 2:40 p.m. Jan. 3

What wonderful news this had to be for Terri. She always has maintained that she will not get too excited until she walks away from the prison arm in arm with Justin. She knows the system has let her down before.

Two hours to go. When I received this news I was very happy for Terri. I began to check on Google for a link on this story to copy for our facebook page. Then I saw this headline.

Justin Wolf’s release halted after appeals court intervenes.

Terri was 2 hours away from holding Justin in her arms. You can read more about it here.

Cruel and Unusual

What Terri and her family are going through is cruel and unusual punishment. If any member of the US Supreme Court had a mother in the same situation the death penalty would be declared no longer legal. They would recognize that it is cruel and unusual punishment for the family. What did Terri do wrong? Does she love her son too much?

When will this barbaric act come to an end?

The eighth amendment to the constitution PROHIBITS the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment. Someone should take this case to the US Supreme Court in Terri’s Steinberg’s name. To put a mother through this can only be described as cruel and unusual.

Terri has become a leading spokesperson for the Journey of Hope. She is pictured at a Journey of Hope event in Virginia last year hosted by VAADP and emceed by their ED Steve Northrup.

Today, January 5th is Terri’s birthday. She did not get the birthday gift she dreams of, Justin’s freedom. The state of Virginia is still trying to kill her son. Happy birthday Terri, we wish Justin could have celebrated it with you.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year,

Most of my waking moments are spent thinking about the Journey Of Hope.
This year I am making a resolution to write more about the Journey of Hope.

The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing will have an interesting year.
We are applying for a prize from the Fetzer Foundation that I think we have a good chance to win. There will be one twenty five thousand prize grant given to a nonprofit in the USA. If we win that the
Journey will go to places we have never been before.

In December the Journey of Hope expanded its board to eleven members.
Prior to 2012 we had 7 members. With our board election the Journey now has in place the most powerful board of directors in our history.
Ans speaking of History, 2013, is the twentieth anniversary of the Journey of Hope.
In 1993 the Journey of Hope traveled through the state for 17 days on its inaugural events.
The Journey isreturning to Indiana, February 22 to March 10. We are looking to returning to Indiana again in October with even more speakers and events.

For me, my work began in Indiana in 1985, when my grandmother was killed by high schools in Gary, Indiana.
Paula Cooper, who was 15 years old at the time of the crime, was sentenced to death becoming the youngest female on death row in this country.

On the night of November 2, 1986, my life was transformed.
I went from supporting the death penalty sentence to campaigning to have her death sentence overturned.
It was commuted in 1989 on the automatic appeal that is given to all death row sentences.
I learned the lesson of the healing power of forgiveness. It became my mission to spread the seeds of love and compassion.

I have spread the seeds of love and compassion in 15 countries and about 40 states.
2013, will be different for me, in that Paula Cooper gets out of prison on July 17. I intend to be at the gates of the prison when she gets out.
I believe in restorative justice. I want to help restore Paula to her place in society.
I have friends that want to help.It will be a very interesting year.
I have been told in places I have spoken the last few years like Germany, Belgium and Italy that they want Paula an I to come to their countries and organizations.
It will be interesting to see what Paula wants to do when she gets out.
Paula is not the same person who committed that terrible crime in 1985 and I want people to see that she has changed.
The people in Europe worked hard to save Paula`s life.
It would be so cool to be able to go with her and let the people who worded so hard, see what their work has accomplished.

The Journey of Hope has been asked to be one of the organizations on the working committe for the 5th World Congress Against the death penalty.
The conference will be in Madrid, June 18 -20. Just yesterday I was asked by a friend and Journey supporter if I needed help to get to Madrid.
When I said yes, he offered to fly me to Spain. Happy New Year!!!

2013 also brings us the 20th annual Fast and Vigil June 29 - July 2. If we get the grant I mentioned earlier I hope that all of our board members can attend a face to face board meeting in DC and do some work stategizing on how the Journey can be an even bigger impact on worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
This would be fantastic and much needed.
The grant is Fetzer Compation for NGO`s working on Love and Forgiveness, Call for Entries ( Win 25,000 dollars, open to orgs around the world)
I think we have a good chance.

We are about love and forgiveness.
We will know on February 14, who the winner is. We have a five minute video prepared for this and we are working on a 500 word synopsis. We would appreciate your prayers.
Award winning producer Micki Dickoff prepared the video and Anne Feczko, one of our new board members is working on the written part.

In January I will head to Omaha, Nebraska for an interview on a documentary called:
"There Will Be No Stay"

It looks to become an exciting year.

Bill Pelke