Emanuel Church in Charleston
July 4, 2016

We have been in Charleston, SC, for a few days of vacation. Of special interest is Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street, the oldest AME Church in the South.

Emanuel AME Church 1

Emanuel AME Church 2

This is the church where last year, on June 17, a 21-year-old fellow sat through almost an hour of the Wednesday night Bible study and then opened fire with a handgun, killing nine people, including the pastor. Two days later family members of the slain spoke words of forgiveness to the killer by closed-circuit television.

Emanuel AME Church 5

People still bring floral tributes to the church.

Emanuel AME Church 3

Emanuel AME Church 4

We attended the almost three-hour service on Sunday morning, July 3. Rev. Eric Manning is the recently installed new pastor.He preached today on Psalm 130, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.”

I estimated the attendance to be about 350. When the leader asked the guests stand, surprisingly, it was nearly half of the congregation.

The service included communion, served as worshipers knelt at the long altar rail.

I do not know if the chancel furniture is normally draped in white, or if this has to do with Communion Sunday, or with remembering the church members killed a year ago.

A police or security officer stood in the balcony most of the service, looking over the congregation carefully.

The service had a great deal of ritual and congregational participation and was quite meaningful. We considered it a privilege to identify with the trauma and grace that these brothers and sisters have experienced.

Advertisements