Grieving with Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church

As members of the Northern Seminary community, we express profound sorrow and commit ourselves to prayer for the families and leadership of the historic Emanuel AME Church of Charleston, South Carolina.  Our hearts ache as we grieve with this body of believers in the death of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Daniel Simmons, and Depayne Middleton-Doctor. We pray for you to experience God’s peace, comfort, and healing. Our hope is for you to draw strength from the members of the body of Christ who stand with you during this painful time.

I was deeply moved when a resident of Charleston, during an interview with CNN, noted in anguish, “People are not born hating one another.”  This anguish connected to an insightful statement made by the African American Presidents and Deans of Graduate Theological Education during this past week: “Searing hate is all too often manifested in hearts and minds only to be transmitted from generation to generation.  Domestic terror is no respecter of race, ethnicity, gender or faith as churches, mosques, synagogues and temples are time and time again defiled.”

As we witness the ongoing impact of racism at work in God’s world, Martin Luther King’s words speak to us. At the funeral of the four young girls killed in the Birmingham church bombings in 1963, he declared, “The [victims] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution.  They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

In the midst of this atrocity, the members of the Northern Seminary family proclaim and cling to hope in Christ.  We commit ourselves to fostering anti-racism and justice within our seminary family. We pray for justice and the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom in the face of this tragedy.

Come Holy Spirit; heal our hearts, our minds, our land.


Karen Walker Freeburg
Interim President
VP Academic Affairs
Assoc. Professor of Christian Spirituality

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