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 Special Edition                                                       June 18, 2015
The Rev. H. Julian Gordy

With people across the country we mourn the deaths in Charleston, SC of nine faithful brothers and sisters who were killed as they gathered in community to study the Holy Scriptures and to pray. Once again, we are faced with evidence of the intransigent sin of racism that has marked so much of our nation's life.            

Among the dead were the Rev. Clementa Pinkney, the Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., and the Rev. Sharonda Singleton, all three, pastors of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest A.M.E. Church south of Baltimore. Pastors Pinkney and Simmons were graduates of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC. Pastor Pinkney was a friend of several of our pastors who were his classmates.

The members of Mother Emanuel have lost beloved and respected spiritual leaders and members of their community. The people of the greater Charleston area have lost people of faith who have worked to build understanding and to contribute to justice and fairness for all. The State of South Carolina has lost, in the person of the Rev. Pinckney, a State Senator who was elected at age twenty-three and has been described as the conscience of the South Carolina legislature. Graduates of our Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary have lost classmates who were friends and colleagues in ministry.


Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these nine brothers and sisters slain at Emanuel and with all who are affected by their deaths. We pray that such senseless hatred and violence may be overcome with love and mercy.


Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in a news release earlier today, "Racism is a fact in American culture. Denial and avoidance of this fact are deadly. . . . When will this end?

"I urge all of us to spend a day in repentance and mourning. And then we need to get to work. Each of us and all of us need to examine ourselves, our church and our communities. We need to be honest about the reality of racism within us and around us. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act. No stereotype or racial slur is justified. Speak out against inequity. Look with newly opened eyes at the many subtle and overt ways that we and our communities see people of color as being of less worth. Above all pray - for insight, for forgiveness, for courage," she said.

This morning at Affirm, our synods annual youth gathering, where I have been serving as chaplain, I prayed with those three hundred or so gathered for morning prayer that our shock and our sorrow and our outrage might turn to repentance and to the courage to finally address issues of race. As people entrusted by God with the ministry of reconciliation, it is past time for us to act.


In Christ's peace and hope,

H. Julian Gordy

Bishop, ELCA Southeastern Synod

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ELCA Southeastern Synod
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