Midweek Message

Lament for Emanuel AME – Charleston

Jim Hopkins

June 18, 2015

Dear Lakeshore,
Many of us awoke this morning to the tragic news out of Charleston, South Carolina, I am sending two responses to help us reflect on this act of violence at a house of worship.

From the American Baptist Churches USA

General Secretary Roy Medley extends on behalf of the American Baptist Churches our deepest Christian sympathies to the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and the AME family at large for the murders they have endured in yet another senseless act of gun violence. We are both shocked and outraged by this crime and the ongoing assaults that are all too common in America. While the killer’s motives are not known, the potential racial overtones only add to our anguish and fears as a community.
Our prayers are with these our brothers and sisters in Christ for strength and comfort and for our country in the midst of an epidemic of pervasive random violence.

From Your Pastor

Some thoughts upon learning of the shootings at Emanuel AME in Charleston
I think that is important that as we lament the Charleston shootings we not try to keep the reality of the tragedy at a safe distance. Yes, the tragedy occurred in a church on the other side of the country. However:

  1. It took place in a church (we go to church)
  2. It took place at a Midweek Bible Study (such studies are part of the fabric of most of our congregations)
  3. The shooter was apparently welcomed into the study (welcoming the stranger is a high value in our houses of worship)
  4. The victims died from wounds inflicted by gunfire (we are drowning in an ocean of gun violence but many powerful entities insist that it is unconstitutional to have lifeguards at this ocean)
  5. Hatred  based on racial prejudice appears to be a motive in the killings (racial prejudice is not found only in the other, it is found in each of us)
  6. Sermons will be preached on the tragedy of Charleston this Sunday (How many folks will that were in the pews on Sunday will go to a community organizing event during the week aimed at developing policies, practices and procedures that  mitigate against gun violence?)
  7. The epidemic of gun violence in our communities has many causes and thus  must be addressed in many ways (Will we admit that sin is part of the problem and recognize that addressing our spiritual condition is part of the answer?)
  8. The victims have names, families, stories (lets use them)

Jim Hopkins