A Word from Our Pastor 2015 July

Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. . . Charleston, SC. A name we will not forget, or should not forget. . . Nine brothers and sisters in Christ murdered by a racist terrorist at Wednesday night Bible Study.

A response for those who died, and a prayer for all of us:

Oh Lord we grieve today:
Hearts broken, eyes weeping, heads spinning;
Our brothers and sisters have died
They gathered and prayed and then were no more;
The prayer-soaked walls of the church are spattered with blood
The enemy at the table turned on them in violence
While they were turning to you in prayer . . .
We stand with our sisters
We stand with our brothers
We stand with their families
We stand to bear their burden in Jesus’ name
We cry out to you, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, heads spinning;
The violence in our streets has come into your house,
The hatred in our cities has crept into your sanctuary,
The brokenness in our lives has broken into your temple.
The dividing wall of hostility has crushed our brothers and sisters.
We cry out to you, May your Kingdom come, may it be on earth as it is in heaven

We cry out for our sisters
We cry out for our brothers
We cry out for their families
We cry out for peace in Jesus’ name

We pray to you today, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, souls stirring
We pray for our enemies, we pray for those who persecute us;
We pray to the God of all Comfort to comfort our brothers and sisters in their mourning;
We pray that you would bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes;
We pray that you would give them the oil of joy instead of mourning;
We pray that you would give them a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair;

We pray for our sisters
We pray for our brothers
We pray for their families
We pray for their comfort in Jesus’ name

We declare together, oh Lord
With hearts breaking, eyes weeping and souls stirring,
We will continue to stand and cry and weep with our brothers and sisters;
We will continue to make a place of peace for even the enemies at our table;
We will continue to open our doors and our hearts to those who enter them;

We will continue to seek to forgive as we have been forgiven;
We will continue to love in Jesus’ name because you taught us that love conquers all.
We declare our love for you, our Sisters
We declare our love for you, our Brothers
We declare our love for you, their families
We declare our love as one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism
We declare they do not grieve alone today.
(Thanks to: LEROY@IMAGODEICOMMUNITY.COM via Warren Gill).

My prayer is that this tragedy, so soon on the heels of so many reports of unnecessary deaths of and excessive aggression upon African Americans by police will inspire all of us to commit ourselves to improving the situation, especially for African Americans. Of course, we are aware of other injustices visited upon other “minorities,” but time and events are calling us to respond to this particular, urgent, and too-long-tolerated experience of racism.

We are a multi-cultural congregation, and that is a blessing. But it is not enough to enjoy this fellowship safe within our church walls. At BMU we have learned the true bonds of community that transcend race and culture — and now it is time to share those bonds of affection in our neighborhoods, in our world. We MUST make the world a better place: love is our experience, love is our message, let love be our way in the world.
–Rev. Naomi

In memorium for:

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41: A state senator and the senior pastor of Emanuel, he was married to Jennifer Benjamin and the father of two children, Eliana and Malana.

Cynthia Hurd, 54: a 31-year employee who managed the John L. Dart Library for 21 years before heading the St. Andrews Regional Library. A statement said Hurd “dedicated her life to serving and improving the lives of others.”

The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45: A pastor at Emanuel, she was also a speech therapist and high school girls track and field coach, both positions at Goose Creek High School. She had three children.

Tywanza Sanders, 26: He was a 2014 graduate in business administration from Allen University in Columbia. Known as Ty, he had worked in sales at department stores such as Belk and Macy’s.

Ethel Lance, 70: She had attended Emanuel for most of her life and worked there as a custodian, as well. According to a former colleague, “She was funny and a pleasure to be around. And she was a wonderful mother and grandmother.”

Susie Jackson, 87: Lance’s cousin, she was a longtime church member.

Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49: The mother of four sang in Emanuel’s choir. In December, she started a new job as an admissions coordinator at the Charleston campus of her alma mater, Southern Wesleyan University.

The Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74: Simmons survived the initial attack but then died in a hospital operating room. He had previously been a pastor at another church in the Charleston area.

Myra Thompson, 59: She was the wife of the Rev. Anthony Thompson, the vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston.