With people across the world, the North Carolina Council of Churches grieves with the congregation of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. This kind of violence against people of faith in other parts of the world has recently and rightfully been called terrorism. Indeed, the people of Emanuel AME have experienced a terrorist act. Fear and violence invaded their space of grace and hospitality while they were together for the faith filled purpose of prayer and worship. As they welcomed the stranger into their midst, an act of faith commanded by the very scriptures they had gathered to study, their gesture of hospitality was met by hatred.
Whether this act comes to be labeled a hate crime or a terrorist act, we stand with the people of Emanuel and with people of faith across the world who refuse to let fear rule our lives and violence dictate our response. We call on people of faith across our constituency to name the righteous anger all of us feel in the wake of this crime. Once again easy access to guns is a vehicle for senseless death, compounded on this occasion by the heartbreak of racial targeting. We lift the congregation of Emanuel and the people of Charleston, SC, in their worship services this weekend. We pray especially for the families of each church member killed, including the family of Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME. Each of their lives is another testimony to the hard and crucial work we still face as a nation. May God continue to embolden each of us to continue marching for justice, peace, and the well-being of all.
–The Rev. George Reed, Executive Director of the NC Council of Churches, and the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, incoming Executive Director of the Council