Statement on Amendment 3 to the Tennessee State Constitution

Greetings Holston and Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conferences! As bishops of Conferences that include the state of Tennessee, we are writing today regarding an opportunity Tennesseans have to right a historical wrong.

On November 8, 2022, the citizens of Tennessee will be going to the polls to make many decisions, including about Amendment 3 which proposes deleting exceptions to the prohibition of slavery. The language of the current Tennessee Constitution reads, “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited by this State.” If Amendment 3 passes, the State Constitution will read, “That slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited in this state.” Note that nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when duly convicted of a crime.

Amendment 3 will finally end the exception to the prohibition, thus officially banning the atrocity of slavery and involuntary servitude in any form. This amendment, which has bipartisan support, passed overwhelmingly as a joint resolution in the Tennessee legislature.

All of us, in our baptismal vows, promised to “accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” Voting on Amendment 3 is an opportunity for us to live out this commitment.

Thank you for prayerfully considering this amendment. We are grateful for you and the variety of ways in which you serve and lead.


William T. McAlilly, Resident Bishop, Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference

Debra Wallace-Padgett, Resident Bishop, Holston & North Alabama Conferences