Our hearts are broken today.
Nine people murdered at a Bible study: Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, the Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, the Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor, and Susie Jackson. Nine black people were shot by a white man quoted as saying, “You are taking over our country; you have to go.” He reloaded his gun five times. FIVE TIMES.
Anchor Church grieves with the Mother Emanuel AME Church. We weep with the Black community.
We will not rationalize the motives of the murderer. We will not make excuses. We will not infuse the narrative of this specific hate crime with statistics of black-on-black crime because we will not be distracted by that symptom of systemic white supremacy in this country. We cannot be silent when prejudice and racism are manifest in acts of domestic terrorism.
We recognize that the white, evangelical Church has not done enough for our Black brothers and sisters. We acknowledge that our privilege and wealth contributes to the absence of privilege and poverty of others. We understand that it is our personal responsibility, and the responsibility of the white, evangelical Church, to listen to the Black narrative and to learn from the Black community; it is not the responsibility of the Black community to teach us everything we need to know.
Fifty-two years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the eulogy at the funeral for victims of the Birmingham Bombing. He said, “[the victims] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, and the philosophy which produced the murders.”
We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice. Because of our commitment to Him, we must question the systems and structures in this country that reinforce prejudice and racism. We believe that each person is created in the image of God and reject the belief that any person or group of people is superior to another. We condemn any and all acts of violence perpetuated in the name of hatred.
We will take the advice of Dr. Cornel West and love our way through the darkness. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34.18) We stand in solidarity beside the people in our country and our local community who are hurting, broken, and oppressed. Our hope and strength are anchored in the God of justice.