The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reaches out to its sisters and brothers of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston

June 18, 2015


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reaches out to its sisters and brothers of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire Wednesday night during Bible study. We grieve with the families of the victims and members of their church community. We hope the perpetrator is soon captured and brought to justice.

The chief of police in Charleston has named this a hate crime. We know of no other name for a crime that forces a five-year-old child to play dead in her church in order to live. Arresting the shooter is the job of law enforcement. Arresting hate is the work we are all called to do as disciples of Jesus Christ. May God never give up on us as we face our own racism and its tragic impact on congregations, their communities, and our very souls.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, God who has brought us thus far on our way, only you know why someone would enter into your house of worship and open fire on your children. Only you know why hate would run so deep that it would cause one of your creations to kill others you have formed. In our confusion over this senseless act, we appeal to you for understanding and courage to continue to fight for justice. We pray right now for the families of those who lost lives at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. on June 17, and ask that you would wrap your loving arms around them and the entire community. Likewise, we pray for an end to the continued racial unrest and violence that permeates the United States and the world, and ask you to guide us to work earnestly for change. Now unto you who is able to keep us from falling, we pray all these things.


Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Linda Valentine
Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Heath K. Rada
Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Larissa Kwong Abazia
Vice Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


  1. The members of this congregation, in their statements of compassion, mercy and forgiveness in the face of such horrifying violence against them, are truly exhibiting the Kingdom of Heaven to the world. They are role models for all of us.

    by Susan Ritacco

    June 21, 2015

  2. In so many ways we've come a long way where racism is concerned. But incidents like this one serve to prove that we we have only scratched the surface! When will we learn that all forms of prejudice and hypocrisy only serve evil. I grieve for my brothers and sisters who suffer in Charleston.

    by Gary Loper

    June 21, 2015

  3. For a thought on resolving racial tension - Please read the PCUSA news item: I urge the Stated Clerk and the Moderator of the GA to invite President Obama to participate in this conference, The Rev Dr Marin Luther King, Jr spoke at the Montreat Conference Center of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on August 21, 1965 on dealing with racial tension. This was just days after rioting in Watts, Los Angeles. His words reflect wisdom beyond his then 36 years and insight into the issues and solutions of racial tension. I urge the President to reflect on this speech and consider attending the upcoming conference at Montreat reflecting on Dr King’s speech of Aug 21, 1965. Certainly in view of the violence in our nation, the opportunity to hear Dr King’s words re-affirmed by the President may promote non-violence in ways not otherwise possible. Dr King's speech is powerful.

    by Thomas Fultz, Ruling Elder

    June 21, 2015

  4. As an Evangelical, remembering sadly that most of us were slow to support ML King and the Civil Rights movement, I agree with Jackie L Leonard above -- Come on -- this letter was a good start, but we need to pull out the strongest statement PCUSA has ever made against Racism, especially violent racism and hang it where the world will see!!

    by Rev. Tim Woodruff

    June 20, 2015

  5. Where can we send a donation to help these dear families?

    by Barbara Gaw

    June 19, 2015

  6. Prayers to the Family and Friends May you love one walk the path of God. Holding hands with Angels and flying high like dove's. God Bless ! Our deepest sympathy from our family.

    by sherry

    June 19, 2015

  7. ALL crimes are hate crimes. Who takes life or property out of love?

    by Rich D

    June 19, 2015

  8. My heart breaks and my prayers go out to the entire church family. It is a scary thing when someone you are ministering to does such a thing. We need to pray for ways to make our church a safe haven at all times.

    by Karey Roehl

    June 19, 2015

  9. Like all of you, I cried when I heard the news. I said special prayers for this congregation. Now they have no "shepherd". Yet we know God has chosen the next "shepherd" for this congregation. May God's blessing be upon our Sisters and brothers in Christ.

    by robert h wright jr

    June 19, 2015

  10. We mourn and pray with you and feel the sadness that envelops us today with such a horrible event. We stand with you and those affected. Unfortunately hatred lives in those whose lives are worthless.

    by Aida Cases

    June 19, 2015

  11. In the statement, the requirement of "arresting hate" in ourselves is truth well spoken. With what action are we following through to confront this evil? It seems to me that words are not enough. It calls for more than breast-beating and mea culpas. Here is the incident and the opportunity to stand up and confront.

    by Hans Killius

    June 19, 2015

  12. OH LORD MY GOD, Please help my -our deep hurt.

    by William Huggins

    June 18, 2015

  13. My sincere heart felt condolence to the individuals injured and loved ones, family & friends of those who died in this horrific incident. The Lord comfort & help you each daily as only He can. God bless xox

    by Skelly

    June 18, 2015

  14. What manner of bedeviled fool would do this? We are in a time where wickedness roam the streets with malice in their hearts. We are in the age of d enwhere evil spirits who know their end is near, so they thrash about violently, possessing the weaker should and doing all manner of grievous acts. Leave no room in your mind our heart for evil to sneak in...FILL YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS WITH THE WORD OF GOD

    by Micha-el

    June 18, 2015

  15. My thoughts, sorrow, shock---and love!---are with our brothers and sisters in Charleston. There is a poem put to music: 'Still---Still With Thee---I am with Thee'.

    by Mary Margaret Floyd

    June 18, 2015

  16. though their hearts are broken, because we follow Christ, healing and forgiveness will happen.

    by Kay McKinney.

    June 18, 2015

  17. I have shed many tears,my heart is broken.Yet I continue to have faith.Thank you all.Peace and Love.

    by Bruce Wallace

    June 18, 2015

  18. Thank you for this statement. But it is not strong enough. What are we doing to assist our Charleston sisters and brothers? Are we sending PDA debriefing teams in as we did after Columbine? Are our clergy there reaching out to the black pastors of Charleston? And where is a good, strong anti-RACIST, anti- violence statement from the General Assembly? I don't care if we offend someone. We are wimping out. It's time to take a stand as we did in the Civil Rights movement. I've met you, Heath; be our leader here! Gradye--you are not afraid to speak out. C'mon, GA!

    by Rev Jackie L Leonard

    June 18, 2015

  19. Thank you for speaking on behalf of us all. Everything we do must impact the hatred and violence that invades the vacuum created by the absence of love in our society.

    by Ray Bagnuolo

    June 18, 2015

  20. Thanks for this statement. "Arresting hate" is the task of all churches, all disciples of Christ, and all religions in our world today.

    by Robert Welsh

    June 18, 2015

  21. Truly we share pains and sorrows for the untimely loss of our brothers in Charleston,SC May there souls rest in perfect PEACE. Amen.

    by Evangelist Abraham Kamara

    June 18, 2015

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