At first, my groan was, “Lord, have mercy- another shooting.” But then I read more closely and realized that this particular shooting struck closer to home. Two of the Emanuel Nine, as the victims are now known, Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr. had attended the ELCA seminary in South Carolina, and were known and loved by many whose laments I read. And then there was the painful and shocking discovery that Roof, a self-professed white supremacist who hoped to ignite a race war with this shooting, was also a member of an ELCA congregation. He is one of ours.
These tragic facts are what led to the Resolution at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to declare June 17th Emanuel Nine Feast Day, a day of remembrance, mourning, and repentance. We, as the greater Church, have been charged with remembering the Emanuel Nine, but also with repenting of the sin of racism and committing ourselves to do better to eradicate it.
The ELCA has developed a number of resources to honor the Emanuel Nine, one of which we will use on Sunday, June 14th. The Litany of Remembrance for their Vocations will remind us that they were people just like us, called to serve God not only through their Bible study, the last thing they ever did, but through their entire lives. I hope and pray that their witness is what can call us to acts of justice, mercy, and love.
If you would like to learn more about the Emanuel Nine, watch this documentary: https://www.emanuelmovie.com/
If you would like to learn more about the resolution and read biographies of the Emanuel Nine, go to this website: https://emanuelnine.epistles.faith/the-emanuel-nine/