Today is a day of commemoration.
Six years ago, on June 17, 2015, Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson were murdered by a self-professed white supremacist while they were gathered for Bible study and prayer at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (often referred to as Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina.
There are Lutheran connections. Pastors Pinckney and Simmons were both graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. It is particularly painful to acknowledge that the murderer was a member – baptized and confirmed – in a Lutheran church.
A colleague, Rev. Lenny Duncan, visited Mother Emanuel church a year or so ago. He posted this photo with the accompanying caption: “Who would have thought a simple bible study listed out front would be the most profound witness I have seen in years.”
Today we grieve many things. We grieve for the nine lives lost. We grieve the fact that evil showed up to Bible study. We grieve the sin of racism. We grieve that the perpetrator of such violence was a part of the Lutheran family.
And also we give thanks for the courageous witness of Mother Emanuel church. Evil has not stopped them from sharing with the world that there will be Bible study on Wednesday at 6:00 PM – and all are invited.