Commemoration of the Emanuel 9:
Special service from 6/17/20
Five years ago today a stranger was welcomed into Bible Study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. After the study ended, he opened fire, killing 9 of the people present in the name of white supremacy. The gunman grew up and was confirmed in an ELCA congregation, and is indicative of the continued, required work needed for us to repent of the sins of racism and white supremacy.
Today, along with our entire denomination, we commemorate the martyrdom of The Emanuel Nine. We give thanks for their faithful witness, grieve their deaths, and confess our own complicity in these systems of sin and death.
Take a few moments this evening to light a candle, participate in the brief liturgy (CLICK HERE FOR BULLETIN), and remember the lives of these siblings in faith. The video is below.
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Dearly Beloved Church,
It was a warm (but not suffocatingly hot) day on Saturday, July 11, 2020, and so I was thankful that we found a spot to sit in the shade as we gathered at Brainard Park in Lyndhurst, not far from the church building. There were no more than 60 people gathered there for what was called the “Lyndhurst Peace Rally for Racial Justice,” with at least seven of us from Messiah. I was also thankful that all in attendance were appropriately socially distanced and were wearing masks, as this was one of the first public events I had attended in-person since the Governor’s initial stay-at-home order months ago. I was a little nervous about potential exposure to the coronavirus!
But as the speakers took the podium, one by one, and shared their stories, my anxiety quelled. We heard from many that afternoon: Ohio Representative Phil Robbins, BLM Cleveland leader Kareem Hinton, Mocha Party founder Lora Thompson, Lyndhurst Chief of Police Patrick Rhode, and Pastor Francis Miller of Lyndhurst Community Presbyterian Church. As they spoke, they reflected on this inflection point we are witnessing as a nation, and what it means for us to all take part in the work going forward. They spoke candidly about mistakes we’ve made, and missteps along the way, and of course of the many changes we’re experiencing locally and nationally. But they also spoke about how we can work together to build trusting relationships with another, while seeking compassionate justice that allows every last person in Lyndhurst to thrive.
We certainly didn’t solve the world’s problems that day, but we crossed paths (socially distanced paths!) in an important way: we listened, we learned, and we opened ourselves to being part of a healthy community going forward. And, at the end of it all, we prayed together, across our many religious (and non-religious) boundaries! A portion of the Hillcrest Interfaith Ministerium, of which I am part, offered a closing prayer for healing. You can find it on our website Home page, or our YouTube page, youtube.com/mlclyndhurst.
I’d like to keep these conversations going, and am planning to lead a book study group (via Zoom) beginning sometime in September. If you’re interested, please respond by phone or email, and I’ll add your name to our list.
God’s peace be with you these warm summer days, Pastor Paul