The tragic shooting death of nine members of historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) in Charleston, South Carolina, including their pastor Rev Clementa Pinckney, cries out for our prayers. The suspected shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, a 21 year-old white man, shot those killed during a Bible study. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest AME church in the South, and houses the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, Maryland. It has a long legacy of working toward freedom, justice, and peace. The tragic death of eight parishioners and Rev. Pinckney, who also served as a South Carolina State Senator, forces us to confront again the sins of racism, hate, and violence.
As we grieve this grave loss, let us join together with others in prayer for the repose of the souls of the nine people killed in this heinous act of violence: Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton, Daniel Simmons Sr, and Myra Thompson; for their families, the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the people of Charleston, South Carolina:
Gracious and loving God,
May we recognize that you bind us together in common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice, truth, and healing to confront the evils of hate, racism, and violence that pervade the United States and the world.
Hold us as we remember lives of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and grandchildren of those who were killed. Comfort those whose hearts and souls are broken.
We ask this at time when the people and community of Charleston and North Charleston are also grappling with the meaning of the police involved shooting death of Walter Scott. We look to you while communities across the United States groan over the loss of too many people to gun violence. You remind us of the dignity and humanity of all human beings.
Grant, O God that the hearts of those who remain may be moved through your life-giving Spirit to remove the barriers that divide us so that hatreds may cease, and divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.”