African American presidents and deans in theological education have shared the following statement and prayer in response to last week's mass murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
As the African American presidents and deans of graduate theological education, we express our profound solidarity with the families and the faithful of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There are not words enough to convey the emotions we feel in the aftermath of the bloodbath. Nine people of faith welcomed the proverbial stranger into the house of prayer. Nine of God's children subsequently lost their lives. Nine women and men were unceremoniously taken from their loved ones. Nine cherished members of a historic freedom-loving congregation and community are no longer in our midst. Our hearts are heavy and we grieve.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the land of his birth well, better even than most of us today, describing ours as a "sick nation." At the funeral of four little girls killed by the bigot’s bomb in Birmingham in 1963, he famously made reference to "the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism." A nation that was born in violence continues to harbor violence still. Searing hate is all too often manifested in hearts and minds only to be transmitted from generation to generation. Domestic terror is no respecter of race, ethnicity, gender, or faith as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples are time and again defiled. Divisions born of greed and fear rend the nation and tear our very souls apart.
In the midst of unfathomable horror, we yet and still proclaim our faith. Out of our deepest pain, we embrace all who know agony, sorrow, rage, and grief. As a community of scholars, administrators, and faith leaders, we commit our calling and our lives to the building of a more just and beloved community. Freedom is never free. God grant us the courage to change the things we cannot accept! May we always remember and never forget.
--African American Presidents and Deans in Theological Education
We share this in remembrance of the victims and their loved ones: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and Myra Thompson.