June 18, 2015
Bishop Richard Franklin Norris
The Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
110 Pisgah Church Road
Columbia, SC 29203
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” – Matthew 2:18
As we woke this morning to the news of yet another senseless act of violence, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joins the cries of sisters and brothers across the country and around the world in lamenting the tragic loss of life at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. We grieve for the nine people whose lives were so senselessly taken while gathered to worship and study. We mourn with their families, the members of the Emanuel AME Church, the greater community of Charleston, and all of those affected by this tragedy.
As we mourn, we are also filled with outrage by this expression of hate and are frightened that this type of violence perpetrated against people of color is becoming more prevalent in our country. As a nation, we assert that out of many we form one people. The sad truth, however, is that we have not come as far as we at times proclaim. The legacy of racial brokenness and division we have inherited and, at times failed to challenge, continues to plague our families, communities and nation. While we are people of hope and faith, at times like this it is difficult to see God’s presence in our world. We join the lament of the prophet Habakkuk,
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?” – Habakkuk 1:2
As sisters and brothers who share a common humanity and common destiny, we commit ourselves, and call on all people of faith and good will, to work together in addressing hate and violence. We ask God’s help to look at our own communities, to name the ways in which we divide ourselves along lines of race, ethnicity, religion, culture and class, and intentionally to seek networks of relationships that can help us grow in our vision of what it means to live in beloved community.
May we not forget that together, we serve a God who loves all people and calls us to do the same.
Todd Adams, Associate General Minister and Vice President; Interim President, Disciples of Christ Historical Society
Mark D. Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Benevolent Association
Jinsuk Chun, Executive Pastor, North American Pacific/Asian Disciples
Gilberto Collazo, President, Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation
Ronald J. Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions
Pat Donahoo, Executive Director, Disciples Women
Chris Dorsey, President, Higher Education and Leadership Ministries
James P. Hamlett, President, Pension Fund of the Christian Church
Timothy M. James, Associate General Minister; Administrative Secretary, National Convocation
Julia Brown Karimu, President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Co-Executive, Global Ministries
Gary W. Kidwell, President, Christian Church Foundation
Brad Lyons, President and Publisher, Christian Board of Publication
Huberto Pimentel, Executive Pastor, Hispanic Ministries
Erick D. Reisinger, President, Disciples Church Extension Fund
Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President
Robert K. Welsh, President, Council on Christian Unity