On June 17, 2015, at 9:00pm, a white gunman shot nine people dead during a prayer service in the sanctuary at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church – "Mother Emanuel" – an historic black church in Charleston, S.C.
At noon on June 18, 2015, Minnesota Council of Churches held a prayer vigil for Mother Emanuel and the community. The vigil included prayer for the victims, their families, and the healing of divisions in our world. In addition to the vigil, MCC presented a joint statement (below) along with the Jewish Community Relations Council, Minnesota & the Dakotas; the Minnesota Catholic Conference; and the Islamic Center of Minnesota. Presiding was Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.
The Minnesota Council of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Jewish Community Relations Council Minnesota and Dakotas, and the Islamic Center of Minnesota condemn as an affront to God and humanity the reprehensible murderous hate crime committed at the "Mother Emanuel" AME Congregation in Charleston, South Carolina. We pray in solidarity for the victims and their families and friends; the church; the people of Charleston; and our nation. We support law enforcement’s investigation of this crime and swift prosecution of this terrorist.
The murders are a stab to the heart of all decent people, everywhere. Churches and houses of worship in the United States and throughout the world are places of prayer, contemplation, and protection. For the historic black churches, their sanctuaries were the heart of non-violent peaceful protest, often in the face of violence, in the national struggle to secure civil rights, voting rights, and dignity.
Yesterday’s murders are a reversion to some of the worst moments of our nation’s history. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in response to the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing which killed four African American girls, echo sadly and loudly today. Such killings are "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity."
Hate crimes attack both individual victims and entire communities. They are meant to isolate and terrorize. We stand in direct contrast: for an inclusive and pluralistic community, one that cherishes life and recognizes that every person is created in the divine image. Religious organizations across the country have reached out to the African Methodist Episcopal Church leadership and South Carolina Council of Churches in support.
The JCRC participated in a prayer vigil at the Minnesota Church Center today. Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Areas of The United Methodist Church presided over the vigil.
All those gathered pondered: "Oh Lord, when there is no peace in sanctuary, we pray for the violence in this land and the division in our lives to end."
Contributions to the "Mother Emmanuel" AME congregation in Charleston can be made at www.emanuelamechurch.org.