A letter from the Church of the Brethren, signed by general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Intercultural Ministry director Gimbiya Kettering, has been sent to members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The letter shares condolence, in response to the shooting there Wednesday, June17, which is being investigated as a hate crime.
Copies of the letter also have been sent to the AME denominational headquarters, in care of senior bishop John R. Bryant and general secretary Dr. Jeffery Cooper.
The shooter who attacked during a Bible study at the historic African-American church murdered six women and three men, including the church’s pastor Clementa Pinckney who also was a state senator. The police have arrested the suspected shooter, a 21-year-old man from Lexington, S.C. CNN reported that “the suspect’s father had recently bought him a .45-caliber gun for his 21st birthday in April.”
Federal authorities have opened a hate crime investigation into the shooting. “The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate,” said Charleston mayor Joe Riley, as quoted by CNN.
The Emanuel AME Church is the oldest AME church in the South, founded in Charleston in 1816, and has a place in history as a center of civil rights activity. “It was borne of discrimination, burned to the ground in hate, and rose again,” said a CNN review of the church’s history. Read “Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal: A Storied Church in a Historic City” at www.cnn.com/2015/06/18/us/charleston-emanuel-ame-church-history/index.html .
The Church of the Brethren letter follows: