On June 17th, 2015,
A 21-year old white supremacist attended a prayer service and Bible Study at the historic African-American church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
He was warmly received by the group.
Together, they all participated in Bible Study for 40 minutes.
He waited for them to begin praying.
Then he raised a gun, espoused racist rhetoric and epithets, and for 6 horrific minutes, fired at all the participants, killing 9 beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ.
They are forever remembered as the Emanuel Nine.
We have work to do.
The shooter was baptized in the ELCA and was on the rolls of an ELCA congregation. Two of his victims, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, were graduates of the Lutheran Theology Southern Seminary, one of 8 ELCA seminaries.
“A Feast Day of Repentance from racism reconciles us with our God. It calls us to highlight voices of color in all our ministries. It fosters active and intentional listening to those voices. In these actions we do the work the Gospel.” #emanuel9feastday
After that shooting, for a few hours, we came together–not as black and white–as human beings. There was a kind of empathy and unity that came about from that tragedy that we have not seen in this state since the Civil War. But how long does it last? I suspect that it’s fading as we speak. Now that the tragedy is over, the status quo is hardening and legislators are making it even harder to get rid of the Confederate Flag. People sink back into their old ideologies.
Dr. Leo Twiggs, Requiem for Mother Emanuel
” Their forgiveness is also an act of resistance to the attempts to lay the blame for this horror at the feet of one man. If America is serious about this moment, we cannot just cry ceremonial tears while at the same time refusing to support the martyred Reverend and his parishioners’ stalwart fight against the racism that gave birth to the crime. “
Reverend Dr. William Barber