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. Pastors Pinckney and Simmons were both graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. A resolution to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance for the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine was adopted by the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on August 8, 2019. Congregations of the ELCA are encouraged reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and white supremacy which continue to plague this church, to venerate the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine, and to mark this day of penitence with study and prayer. (sundaysandseasons.com).
Today is a day of prayer and repentance for CLC and for our whole ELCA church body. CLC is part of a denomination called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). A boy who grew up in one of our churches, who served as an acolyte, grew into a white supremacist. He was graciously welcomed into a Bible Study at Mother Emanuel Church and proceeded to murder all who were there with him. He was hoping to start a race war.
We lament the part our church body played in this murder. Could different liturgies, different words, different values, have shaped him differently? Could confronting racism and teaching anti-racism in our churches twenty years ago have prevented this murder?
We don't know. We lament the part we played. We lament the continued sin of racism we continue to tolerate in our churches, community, and nation.
And now, we get to the holy work of prayer, listening, learning, and action.