Standing Together in Faith and Love

A letter in response to the Charleston, SC tragedy from the Attleboro Area Council of Churches

As people of faith, we reach out in love to the people of Charleston, South Carolina, and especially to the families and friends of those senselessly slain while attending Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Our response goes beyond that of grief and compassion. We honor the lives of Rev. Clementa Pickney, pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Church and a South Carolina State Senator; Cynthia Hurd; Tywanza Sanders; Sharonda Singleton; Myra Thompson; Ethel Lance; Susie Jackson; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr.; and DePayne Doctor. All nine lives taken as they were gathered in prayer and reflection in their house of worship. An attack against any people in the sacred space of a house of worship is an attack against all people of faith and good-will everywhere. As one Charleston resident is reported to have said, “We must love our way through this.”

We are reminded of this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “…there are certain things in our nation and in the world to which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good‐will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself….. to self‐defeating effects of physical violence….”

May we always be maladjusted to acts of racism, hatred and violence. The accused has been apprehended, and it is now in the hands of our justice system to give him his day in court.

Meanwhile, we must go about the business of loving one another through this. We must help to heal the horrible rend this heinous crime has ripped into the fabric of our very nation. We must be about the difficult work of building communities of friendship, love and hope – to bring an end to the systemic racial tensions and hatred that is tearing our communities apart.

The Attleboro Area Council of Churches is an interfaith network of congregations dedicated to building greater cultural understanding among people of all faiths in our region. We rededicate ourselves to the work of community building among people of all faiths, all cultures, all races and all socio-economic backgrounds. There have been too many tragedies of this kind. We must love ourselves through this, so we can get to the other side of these kinds of senseless violent tragedies — if we are to build communities of love and justice for all God’s children, here on earth.