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In Conversation: Bishop Brian Cole and Rev. Joe Ingle

August 20 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Joe Ingle

Join Bishop Brian Cole as he interviews the Rev. Joseph Ingle on his new book Too Close to the Flame: With the Condemned inside the Southern Killing Machine, on Tuesday, August 20, at 7:00 PM at St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville. We are excited to partner with Union Ave. Books to bring this event to you free of charge. Union Ave. will be on site with copies for purchase. You may order copies ahead here.

About the Book

Joe Ingle’s Too Close to the Flame is a heartbreakingly beautiful account of over four decades serving as a spiritual counselor, guide, and friend to the men and women on Death Row.

“I had been working with the condemned since 1975—but never before had an execution affected me with this much power and confusion.”

Throughout his forty-five years visiting death rows across the American South, Joe Ingle has learned, loved, and suffered intensely. In Too Close to the Flame, Ingle describes how the events of 2018–2020 finally exposed the deep wounds inflicted on his psyche by nearly half a century of enduring the state-sanctioned murder of friend after friend.

As an advocate for the men and women condemned to death by an unjust legal system that routinely victimizes the marginalized, Ingle has often found himself waiting through the darkest hours as the spiritual advisor and sole companion of those on deathwatch—the brief period of isolation that precedes an execution. In vivid detail and startling candor, Ingle describes every moment with the expertise of a scholar and the affection of a brother. Through Ingle’s eyes, we are invited into the inner sanctum during desperate attempts at clemency, intimate final hours, and the mourning that follows a night on deathwatch.

Part psychological memoir, part history of Southern state killing since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, Too Close to the Flame is above all a catalogue of love—a gallery of relationships that could only be forged between people staring death in the face together. It is an account of the price of radical Christian love, a record of service to the least among us, and a testament to the full humanity of those whom the powers that be would seek to dehumanize and exterminate.

About the Author

Joe Ingle, a North Carolina native, left the South after college and moved to East Harlem to join the E. Harlem Urban Year program. He spent his senior year at Union Theological Seminary visiting prisoners at the Bronx House of Detention. Prior to that experience, his initial time with prisoners, he was a typical white guy from the South. When he returned to the South, he was a changed man. Living in Nashville, TN, he began working against mass incarceration and the death penalty with the Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons which he helped create. This led him to visit every Southern death row and create a web of relationships with the women and men imprisoned there. Working to save their lives led him to meetings in governor’s offices, legislatures, courtrooms, churches, synagogues, bishop and archbishop offices. And it led him into the homes of the families of the condemned and victims. Realizing many of the condemned had no lawyers, he along with three colleagues, created a law project—The Southern Center for Human Rights—to represent them.

Although the death penalty is an issue, for Ingle it is primarily about people caught in the killing machinery. It is where he has devoted his adult life.

He resides in rural Nashville, Scottsboro, where the residents are dedicated to farming organically and preserving the environment. He and his wife Becca raise blueberries with some 200 bushes in the field.


August 20
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Diocese of East Tennessee
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St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville
1101 N Broadway
Knoxville, TN 37917 United States
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