Victim’s husband Emanuel leads Bible study on shooting anniversary

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Some 200 people gathered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on Wednesday a year after 9 people were killed in the same Bible study

CHARLESTON – ‘Don’t worry about the bad guys; do not be envious of criminals! … The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; it is their fortress in times of unrest.

A reading of Psalm 37 set the tone for an evening of remembrance, praise and holy celebration on Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church.

A year ago, the historic Charleston Church opened its doors to members of the congregation and the public – friends, family and strangers – as it has and continues to do every Wednesday for an evening of worship. , prayer and study of the word of God.

About a dozen people gathered for a study of the gospel of Mark chapter 4, the parable of Jesus of the sower.

This Wednesday evening, June 17, 2015, evil was among them. Nine of them would perish that night, shot by a man who first joined them for an hour as they worshiped and studied this same verse.

This Wednesday evening, Mother Emanuel was packed with dozens and dozens of congregation members and others, including the mayor of Charleston, John Tecklenburg, family members of the victims and others from the community and beyond, all embraced by a palpable spirit of joy as they revisited the parable of the sower of seeds.

“Instead of letting Jesus change our lives, we tell him… I have this,” Reverend Anthony Thompson of the Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston told the group. Thompson visited Emanuel on Wednesday to lead the Bible study in honor of his wife, Myra, who was killed last year after leading the same study. “Many of us intentionally refuse the word of God because we believe we have it.”

Thompson borrowed his wife’s notes, which he remembers that she diligently prepared before her death.

Bible study was the first of many commemorations this week and the next in the city.

The group on Wednesday did not meet in the basement, where the shootings took place, but in the great sanctuary of the church. Another glaring difference a year later was the presence of police and media in and around the church.

Addressing a crowd of around 200, Thompson stood in the same pulpit once commanded by Rev. Clementa Pinckney, state senator and church pastor who was killed with Myra Thompson and seven other parishioners of Emanuel: Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons and Rev. Sharonda Singleton.

Their accused killer, declared white supremacist Dylann Roof, is not waiting for one, but two death penalty trials in the coming months. Congregation Emanuel, meanwhile, raised her name and that of her family members in the Columbia area in prayer on Wednesday, calling for God’s mercy on their behalf.

Thompson’s post mentioned the need for gun control and the issues of racism and mass incarceration of African-American men – societal issues highlighted in the days and long months following the church massacres, but that, Thompson and many others. say, have been under-treated since the Emanuel Nines were lost.

“I don’t think things have changed for the better,” said Korynn Braden, of Detroit, who is on vacation in South Carolina with her husband, Jon. They visited Emanuel on Wednesday night with their friends Don and Barbara Butch from Summerville. “People act like they’re losing their minds. They forget their morals and forget their values. It’s just sad. Look at what just happened in Orlando. You turn on the TV and it makes you sad.

“So I hope it gets better. I pray it gets better every night.

Thompson, however, pointed out what he says is the only real chance for change in the world: to listen to the word of God and share it with a world in need.

“When God spoke, nothing turned into something. And that’s what the word of God can do for our lives, ”he said. “It can change our attitudes. It can change our hearts to be what God wants us to be, to do what God wants us to do.

Contact Ellis at (803) 771-8307.

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