On Wednesday June 17th 2015, a very heinous crime took place at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. With deep sadness and heart wrenching pain, the city, nation and the world learned that nine (9) lives were lost.
The suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington , South Carolina, and his chief instigator and partner in the crime,[Satan], was captured and arrested hours later, Thursday, June 18th 2015 in Shelby, NC.
I may be thousands of miles away this but I would only be deceiving myself if I said that I am not touched by this tragedy. So what makes our world come together? These were my sisters and my brothers in Christ.
They were at a prayer meeting, and no doubt, having bible study. They were in the house of God, a place of worship – a place where they should have been safe from the terrors of darkness and every diabolical plot and scheme of Satan.
As I try to make sense of the tragedy, I am thinking how could God in His infinite wisdom and omniscience allow such a despicable crime against members of His own body, the Church?
The only logical reason we suspect to be at the root of this hideous crime, is hate. But what is the deeper message beneath all of this? What are the lessons to be learned?
My initial humanly reaction was tears – of grief, pain and sadness. From there a rush of anger came over me, not so much towards the suspect, as it probably should have been, but mostly towards Satan himself. I said things like, “Satan you are stupid, you are dumb thinking you can go into the house of God to carry out your despicable hate crime and that you would not get caught!”
I continued, “May you rot in hell, the only place where you belong. No mercy for you.”
More questions than answers.
What do we say to our children if the very place of worship that we struggle ever so often to get them into is not safe? Regardless, it is a crime one too many.
Today, I join with others and pay tribute to the victims that through various news sources, I am learning about them and their commitment to the faith.
Pastor, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney
Pinckney, 41, a husband and father left a wife, Jennifer and two daughters, Eliana and Malana. According to the church biography it is said that he answered the call to preach at the tender age of 13.
He’s also being described as a high achiever all his life and was first appointed a pastor when he was 18. In 1996, at age 23, he was elected to the state House of Representatives, the youngest black person ever elected to the South Carolina Legislature.
At the age of 27, he was elected to the state Senate. Pinckney is said to have pushed for legislation to make police wear body camera, believing it would protect lives. His cousin Kent Williams in speaking with CNN Thursday said, “He was a man of character. He was a God fearing man. He was a family man.”
Williams added, “He had a passion for helping the poor, for helping to improve the quality of life for all mankind, but especially for those who are the least among us.”
Singleton, 45, another person shot on Wednesday night, was Goose Creek High School girls track and field coach and according to the church’s website was also a reverend (assistant pastor) at the church. She was also a speech therapist at the school and according to her Linkedin page, has been employed by Berkeley County Public Schools since 2007.
Apart from Pinckney and Coleman-Singleton, the other victims were:
Tywanza Sanders, 26 years and a 2014 graduate of Allen University in the state capitol
According to USA Today, Allen University President Lady June was quoted saying, “He was a quiet, well known student who was committed to his education.” She added, “He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues.”
His Facebook cover photo bears these simple, yet profound words, “Your dreams are calling you.”
He was the youngest victim.
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 years – The New York Times reported that Lance was a sexton at the church and according to USA Today, she was described by her grandson, Jon Quil Lance as a Christian, hard working and someone who had worked at the church for 30 years.
Susie Jackson, 87 years – was a long time Emmanuel AME Church member and a cousin of Lance.
Cynthia Hurd, 54 years – was a regional branch manager from the Charleston County Public Library system. Sources said that all 16 locations were closed Thursday in her honor. She amassed a total of 31 years working for the library, serving as manager for two locations.
Myra Thompson, 59 years – was wife of Rev. Anthony Thompson, Vicar of Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston. A long time friend, Bishop Gadsden reportedly told CNN that she was a woman who loved the Lord.
Thompson was teaching bible study when she was shot and killed.
Daniel Simmons Sr. 74 years, is listed on the church’s website as a member of the ministerial staff. According to USA Today he is also reported as being a retired pastor from another church but attended the Emmanuel AME Church for Sunday services and Wednesdays for Bible Study.
DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49 years, on her Linkedin page she listed herself as a “management professional” A mother of four daughters, she was a minister who sang in the church choir, the Post and Courier reported.
All of us here at EMB would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of these victims, their well wishers and supporters and we pray that God will give them the strength and the grace to get through this difficult and painful moment in their lives.