THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS COUNCIL STATEMENT CONCERNING EMANUEL AME CHURCH IN CHARLESTON, SC: June 18, 2015
The 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, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Cynthia Hurd, the Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, the 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 lost an outstanding state senator and leader in the person of the Rev. Pinckney. 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 Methodists 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 blacks because of what blacks are doing to “his country.”
The recent Charleston, South Carolina tragedy; the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in Staten Island; Akil Gurly in New York; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio; 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” c/o City of Charleston P. O. Box 304 Charleston, SC 29402
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 David R. Daniels Jr. John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop Samuel L. Green Sr. John F. White, Secretary, Council of Bishops Jeffrey N. Leath Clement W. Fugh, Ass’t Sec. Council of Bishops Reginald T. Jackson McKinley Young E. Earl McCloud Jr. William P. DeVeaux Sr. John H. Adams T. Larry Kirkland Frederick H. Talbot Adam J. Richardson Jr. Frederick C. James Richard F. Norris Frank C. Cummings Vashti M. McKenzie Philip R. Cousin Sr. Gregory G. M. Ingram Henry A. Belin Jr. Preston W. Williams II Robert V. Webster Wilfred J. Messiah Zedekiah L. Grady Paul J. M. Kawimbe C. Garnett Henning Sr. James L. Davis Carolyn Tyler Guidry