African Methodist Episcopal Church
COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
June 18, 2015
Press ReleaseThe Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church joins with our components and worldwide membership in expressing our grief and sympathy on the senseless and tragic attack which took the lives of The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor, and eight other congregants of Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel is the oldest black church in the south and one of the most historic churches in the nation. The senseless and evil action which took the lives of those who gathered at Mother Emanuel to study and pray is indicative of a major crisis facing our nation and its people. While we are pleased that Dylann Storm Roof, the assailant and alleged murderer has been arrested, we do not believe this matter has been concluded.
First, we join in grief with Mother Emanuel Church in the loss of her pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, and Ethel Lance, members of that church family. We also grieve with the State of South Carolina, which also in Rev. Pinckney lost an outstanding state senator and leader. Second, we pray and ask for the God of love, mercy and grace to comfort, restore and give peace to family members and of all of us who have been shaken and saddened by this tragedy. May our faith be strengthened and our hope restored.
Finally, we call upon the nation’s political leadership, faith institutions and other organizations in this country to face the reality that race remains a problem in this nation. “The arrest of Dylann Storm Roof, the assailant and alleged murderer does not end this matter. In fact this matter makes even clearer that race is a major problem in our nation that must be dealt with,” said Bishop Julius McAllister, President of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “The nation can no longer live in denial and act as if it does not exist. Every week there is some incident which involves the negative consequences of race,” he added. “The AME Church will join with other faith communities to stress the need for the United States to face, discuss and meet head on the problem of race in this country,” said Bishop John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop of the AME Church.
“African Methodist in South Carolina are strong and faithful, we will not shy away or lessen our commitment to equality and social justice,” said Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, Presiding Bishop of South Carolina. “This will make us stronger and more determined to advance God’s kingdom on earth. This tragedy will not weaken, but strengthen us. African Methodism will become stronger because of this tragedy,” he said.
The problem of race has not decreased but increased over the last several years. Listen to what has been said, “We want our country back.” The question is from whom? Mr. Roof stated that he had to kill black because of what we are doing to his country. The recent Charleston, SC tragedy, the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Eric Garner in Staten Island, Akil Gurly in NY, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, OH and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, our nation’s president has been called “a monkey,” disrespected and had his citizenship questioned, are all indicative of a systemic race problem.
In September the African Methodist Episcopal Church will be joining with our sister communions and other partners to constrain this nation to address the issue of race in this nation. Details will be announced next month.
The Council of Bishops calls on all of our churches, and other communions and congregations to join together this week, and in particular this weekend wherever we worship to pray for those who lost their lives, their families, Mother Emanuel Church, and our nation.
Contribution to assist with the burial and expenses related to those who lost their lives can be sent to:
“Mother Emanuel Hope Fund”
Seventh Episcopal District
110 Pisgah Church Road
Columbia, SC 29203
For further information contact Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Bishop of Urban and Ecumenical Affairs and Chair of the Social Action Commission of the AME Church at Reginald.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishops of the AME Church
Julius McAllister, President, Council of Bishops; John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop; John F. White, Secretary, Council of Bishops; Clement W. Fugh, Assistant Secretary, Council of Bishops; McKinley Young, William P. DeVeaux Sr., T. Larry Kirkland, Adam J. Richardson Jr., Richard F. Norris, Vashti M. McKenzie, Gregory G. M. Ingram, Preston W. Williams II, Wilfred J. Messiah, Paul J. M. Kawimbe, James L. Davis, David R. Daniels Jr., Samuel L. Green Sr., Jeffrey N. Leath, Reginald T. Jackson, E. Earl McCloud Jr., John H. Adams, Frederick H. Talbot, Frederick C. James, Frank C. Cummings, Philip R. Cousin Sr., Henry A. Belin Jr., Robert V. Webster, Zedekiah L. Grady, C. Garnett Henning Sr.
“We utterly condemn the appalling attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina this week and the killing of nine African Americans. We welcome the prompt action by the authorities to investigate this hate crime. Every effort must be made to ensure the person guilty of this act is prosecuted and punished accordingly. Urgent measures must be taken to prevent gun violence and racist crimes motivated by prejudice that affect the security of Afro-Americans, their communities and society as a whole. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the people of the United States of America, especially the families and friends of those who were murdered while in worship at Church.” ---United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. This statement is attributable to Ms. Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, current Chairperson of the expert group.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, very saddened by the news of the senseless and tragic shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, expressed on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America “deep sorrow, sympathy and prayers for the victims, their families and their community.” The shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, took the lives of nine innocent people.
“I am deeply saddened and distraught by the news of this heinous crime,” he stated, “which took place in a church, in a sacred place of worship, during a time of Bible study. We, the Greek Orthodox Church in America, mourn the loss of innocent lives and stand in solidarity with the people of the community in Charleston. We pray fervently to God for the repose of the souls of the victims and for strength, comfort and consolation to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Furthermore, we firmly reiterate the unyielding commitment of the Orthodox Church to all efforts for the elimination of the causes of similar inhuman actions.” --- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
"I am deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. On behalf of The King Center, I extend my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this horrific act of hate and violence. Humanity has been robbed of 9 sacred lives, in a manner that was steeped in racism, with the gunman reportedly stating, "I came to shoot black people," before he opened fire. This chain of events underscores that this nation has cultivated a culture of violence and has yet to earnestly address pervasive racism.
"My family has a strong connection to this church, which has such a long and distinguished heritage and leadership role in African American history. My father preached at Emanuel AME church in 1962, and my mother, Coretta Scott King, worked with members of the congregation in the historic movement to unionize Charleston’s hospital workers, many of whom were African-American women earning subsistence wages. She led a march to the church and addressed a mass rally at the church on April 29, 1969, in support of their strike for decent wages and working conditions.
"In this heart-rending moment, we are remembering the history of Emanuel AME and Charleston, revisiting past racial injustice and grappling with the pain of racism that this country still contends with today. We must drastically increase our efforts to educate people to reject racism and violence, and to create a culture of nonviolence, which is not a tactic, but a lifestyle. In the words of my father, Nonviolence 365, as The King Center calls our education and training based on his nonviolent philosophy and methodology, “must become immediately a subject for study and for serious implementation in every field of human conflict, and by no means excluding the relations between nations.”
"We must interrupt business as usual and change the trajectory of our nation. And, as my father shared in his eulogy for the four little girls killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, “…We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”
"We must choose to be concerned about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the Charleston gunman. It is critical that we are concerned, for our concern reflects our attention to our ultimate choice between “nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” We must choose Nonviolence 365.
I pray for healing for the Emmanuel AME congregation, the Charleston community and for all of the families impacted by this tragedy.” ---King Center C.E.O. Bernice A. King
"The Minnesota Council of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and Dakotas, the Islamic Center of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Rabbinical Association 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 the swift prosecution of the terrorist who committed these heinous murders.
“These 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, 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 and Minnesota Annual Conferences 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 ‘Mother Emmanuel’ AME congregation in Charleston can be made at http://www.emanuelamechurch.org/.” --- The Minnesota Council of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and Dakotas, the Islamic Center of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Rabbinical Association
"Our Hearts are with Our Community."---Medical University of South Carolina, largest employer in S.C.