How Then Should We Pray :: A Response to the Murders at Emanuel AME Church

June 18, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Surely you have watched with me through the night and into the day the violent and evil act committed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last night. And, I’m sure that your heart is rent for the families – and church family – of the victims. For some of you this will be one more disconnected and sad event played out on your television screens and internet. For many others it will be personal as it is your friends who are personally affected.

It is right that you feel sickened and angry. It is right that you struggle to know what to do. We all do. Scripture tells us that in the diminishment or suffering of one, the whole church suffers. We are enjoined to weep with those who weep and to mourn with those who mourn. Today, we mourn and we weep with our brothers and sisters at Mother Emanuel and all of Charleston.

I had the opportunity to speak with a number of African American church leaders and individuals and in particular Bishops Al Gadsden and William White, fellow ACNA bishops in the Reformed Episcopal Church. Their pain was palpable and multiplied as they must also to minister to an REC priest whose wife was killed in the shooting. In a separate heart-rending conversation, one elderly African American man told me he felt like the clock had been turned back 50 years. It is difficult for me to process the pain and sadness of those who have lost loved ones in such a violent manner.

Many priests, lay persons and friends from across the area and the country have contacted me wondering how to respond in a meaningful way. Some will have gathered at Morris Brown AME Church for the prayer vigil this afternoon. Others will be gathering at The Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul for prayer. We, St. Andrew’s and the Diocese of the Carolinas, will seek God’s face for wisdom and discernment as we seek to respond and act as agents of hope and reconciliation.

In these times one may ask, where is God? And the reply is, on the cross. For there he demonstrated once and for all his love for this sinful and broken world and he has promised us that he has not – nor will he – abandon His world.

Please join me in prayer as we remember

  • The families of those killed
  • The members of Mother Emanuel AME
  • The members of our law enforcement and first responders community
  • The members of the Charleston community

And pray that

  • That there would be no further acts of violence
  • There would be peace in our city
  • That unity may overcome estrangement
  • That joy might conquer despair

Lastly, I commend the following prayer to you and to our congregations across the Diocese of the Carolinas. Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has sent the same prayer to the Diocese of South Carolina. Let us, in brotherly affection join our voices as we pray:

“O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples and races of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and those who are near: Grant to those who have lost love ones your hope, comfort and peace; grant to those members of Emmanuel AME Church a sense of your presence; look with compassion on the whole human family here in Charleston and across our nation; show us how to respond to one another’s hurt and suffering; shed abroad your Spirit on those who have lost faith, hope and trust in You and one another; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that in your good time all peoples and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Yours in Christ,


3 responses to How Then Should We Pray :: A Response to the Murders at Emanuel AME Church

  1. Sami Jo Magoffin June 18, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you for a well covered response for this horrific act. As we pray, ask God also that no others will try to imitate this hatred elsewhere. I am sharing for others to be helped.

  2. Heather Houlton, UK June 19, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    So sad to hear of what has happened in Charleston. Praying for the members of Emmanuel AME Churh and all who live in the city.

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