On June 17th, a tragedy occurred at the Historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. People gathered for Bible Study: men, women and children. They gathered, devoting themselves to the pastor’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. In the midst of this time of worship, a guest joined the Bible Study. He even remained with worshippers for nearly an hour before opening fire, his words of hate extended as he took the lives of the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, six women, and two other men.
In response to this inexplicable tragedy, the Ministers Council offers our hopes and prayers. We pray that God would bless and comfort the families of those who were slain. We ask God to be with the members of the Emanuel AME Church, and the people of Charleston, SC. We take comfort in the fact that God is an ever present help in the time of trouble, and we pray that God’s Spirit would draw us together and heal our hurt.
But we also extend ourselves declaring that we cannot be silent. We must speak out because hatred and violence cannot rule the day. Fear and anxiety cannot hold sway. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. With our power, we rise up to cry violence and demand justice, lest the prophetic word of God become like a burning fire in our bones. With our love, we extend ourselves to overcome fear, because perfect love casts out fear. And with our soundness of mind, we will advocate for change. There is a wide diversity of thought surrounding what should be done. But our diversity need not be divisive. As we reason together, we can make a difference. Following the Savior, we can lift up the third way that seeks the greater good for all of God’s people.
We pray for peace. We pray for healing. And we pray that God would use us to advocate for God’s people.
The Ministers Council, ABCUSA, an independent, non-profit organization of ordained, commissioned and lay Christian leaders who are serving American Baptist Churches, works to nurture, encourage and strengthen ministerial leaders by providing fellowshipping opportunities; spiritual enrichment; and educational programming to fuel the effectiveness of the men and women called of God to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.