For many Black churches Wednesdays are usually designated as a day or evening for Bible studies and prayer services. But this Wednesday, June 24, will recognize and put into perspective the tragic events of a week ago at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The community prayer vigil will be held at Wayman A.M.E. Church, 1221 7th Avenue in North Minneapolis at 7 pm.
It was spiritual business as usual Sunday at the five local A.M.E. churches, as well as other churches. After the tragedy last week, Rev. Alphonse Reff, Sr., the presiding elder of the St. Paul Minneapolis District, asked the pastors to preach on “healing and hope” in their Sunday sermons.
The church still is the place for comfort, support and security, said Lovie Kidd, who brought herself and her two young children to church as she does each week. “We still have to remain prayerful and seek an understanding as [to] why tragic things happen” even in the church, she pointed out. “We can’t live in fear. God is with us all the way.”
Wayman member Betty Webb pointed out to her fellow church school class members, “It is part of the world, and the evil doings is brought into the church.”
What happened a week ago in Charleston has brought the local faith community together, said Reff, who told the MSR before the service that since the killings he has received numerous calls from various members of many faiths, including the Islamic and Jewish communities, offering words of comfort and support. Reff, the presiding elder of the 10-church St. Paul Minneapolis District that has five churches in the Twin Cities area, had asked the pastors to preach on “healing and hope” in their Sunday sermons.
Reff, who also is Wayman’s pastor, told his congregation and others at the regular 11 am service, “We still have to show love. Their lives must not be in vain. God is still with us.”
State Rep. Raymond Dehn, who sat in the pews Sunday, told the MSR before the service that a “serious talk” is needed to bring about meaningful gun reform. What happened in Charleston last weekend “was clearly a racist attack and a terrorist attack,” he stated.
“I strongly believe that if more men had been at that service,” said Bernard Glover, “that young man [Dylann Roof] would have had another thought” about his act and possibly had left.
You can’t close the church doors because “the foundation of our faith…is to have our doors open,” even to strangers and persons who don’t look like us, reiterated Melvin Tennant. “I don’t see this as a time to overact. This was an extreme case.This young man had a deep-seated problem.”
Many believe that the Charleston shooting calls for more cooperation, collaboration and open dialogue in this country. “We still have to come together as a nation and discuss racism,” said Reff.
Dehn said, “A real honest conversation among White folk on racism” as well as a “serious” talk about taking guns out of our community and elsewhere in the country is needed.
The media must help spark such needed dialogue, and not just among people of faith but all people, said Glover.
“We still have to love,” concluded Reff.
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