Wednesday night was the most unifying night of the week.
There are a couple of things that need to be said about the Charleston church shooting.
As we hear the voices of the politicians attempt to score political points about guns, ‘widespread’ racism, the need for more program money; the hand wringers who claim we need to talk more about race; and those who wish to make money off the deaths of these people; there are a few things that need pointing out. Call it a ‘duh’ factor, if you will.
A predominantly black church welcomed a white, young millennial into their Wednesday night Bible study. He heard the preaching and give and take with the nine people, four of whom were pastors, for about an hour. He heard the hearts of these people, heard their struggles and triumphs. He heard the truth.
The parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church Bible study Wednesday night were much older than the shooter. Only one, Tywanza Sanders, 26, was close to his age.
These strangers welcomed a young man into the fold because that’s ‘how we do’ at church. We’re all part of God’s family and we welcome our sisters and brothers regardless of race, age, ethnicity and social stratum.
The shooter, clearly suffering from mental problems and dark thoughts, some of which church folk might refer to as ‘demon possession’, knew when and where to go to find his victims because it was advertised on the Emanuel AME website:
Is something missing from your life? Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God? If you have a desire to learn more about God, then join us on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the lower level of the church. We look forward to seeing you!
I don’t know the Bible text at the center of the study, but there’s no question this study attempted to fill the void of those who ‘have something missing’ from their lives.
Everyone was welcome.
There was a call to accountability to those coming to the study. ‘Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God?’
While that may be off-putting to some, there was no doubt this Bible study would have addressed how each individual could ‘walk the talk’ and be held accountable by their group in a loving way.
The elders were showing the younger members, including this killer, how to have a relationship with God because that’s what’s important. Because that’s just ‘how we do’ at church.
In short, Cynthia Hurd, a 54 year old library manager; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a professional speech therapist, coach and mother; the Reverend Dr. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; church sexton, Ethel Lance, 70; the Reverend Daniel Simmons, a 74 year old staff minister; 59 year old Myra Thompson, the wife of a vicar at a near by church; Susie Jackson, 87 year old church stalwart; Tywanza, a young man of God; and their leader, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney were doing that which people claim we need more of.
Holding a Bible study and learning about the word of God on Wednesdays is what millions of people do every week. It’s one way we live out our faith. Complete strangers are welcomed to these meetings.
These meetings don’t usually make the news.
The people at this Bible study Wednesday night were living out racial harmony. To Christians at Emanuel AME, there was something much bigger than what divides us. They arrayed themselves around the word of God every Wednesday night at 6pm and concentrated on what unites His people.
They didn’t need to talk about racial harmony because they knew that spiritual harmony, united under the God of the Bible, is what’s important and the only thing that unites people, be they Samaritans, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks or Israelites.
This church, called Mother Emanuel, has known great injustice. Members organized a slave rebellion in the 1800’s and some were executed for it. The church served as a stop in the underground railroad for runaway slaves. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior preached there.
Dr. King at #EmanuelAME. #HistoricBlackChurch #CivilRightsMovement #CharlestonShooting pic.twitter.com/Iu3ihGjQ2V
In the public square, the facile answer to this horrific shooting at the hands of a racist monster, is to assume government diktat or programs can do something to change people’s hearts.
There’s a role, to be sure, from the bully pulpit to help guide people, but I’m not hopeful the President can pivot to becoming a unifying voice. He’s shown too often he can only offer airy words of blame in his role as bystander-in-chief.
Al Sharpton, the President’s racial consigliere, has demonstrated he cares only what he can plunder and if he gets the credit for garnering headlines while fomenting violent clashes.
The organized left, led by paid protesters, has shown in city after city its aim is to create chaos, not unity.
These people who purport to show us the way to racial unity are some of the same who have conspired to take God out of the public square. Their aim is to replace a Gothic cathedral filled with God with a federal-style building somewhere in a capital city.
The thing that many people on social media and in legacy media won’t say is that we don’t need more government programs to force people into compliance with proscribed viewpoints, however meritorious.
They don’t need more Gov. They need more God.
The people at Emanuel AME showed the way. It’s up to the rest of us to follow their lead.
Godspeed. God Bless these people who knew where they were going and are now in peace.
And never forget: Joy comes in the morning. Because that’s just ‘how we do.’