PRESIDENT OBAMA will deliver the eulogy at today's funeral of
the Revd Clementa Pinckney, the South Carolina State Senator and
pastor who was killed during last week's shooting at the Emanuel
African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South
He was one of nine people who were killed when a white man
opened fire during a Bible-study meeting at the church, which, as
one of the oldest Black-led churches in the United States, is
referred to as Mother Emanuel. The church, and the African
Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination, is due to celebrate its
bicentenary next year.
The suspect, Dylann Roof, has been charged with nine murders and
illegal possession of a firearm. In a "manifesto" published before
the crime, Mr Roof said that he wanted to use killings to spark a
race war; but the reaction of the public in South Carolina has been
On Sunday, some 2000 people marched together in Charleston in a
peaceful multi-racial act of remembrance and unity, singing the
gospel song "This little light of mine".
Emanuel AME held its usual services last Sunday, led by the Revd
Norvel Goff, who has been appointed interim pastor. "A lot of
people expected us to do something strange, and to break out in a
riot. Well, they just don't know us. We are people of faith," he
"The doors are open at Emanuel this Sunday, sending a message to
every demon in hell and on earth that no weapon, no weapon . . .
Speaking after a memorial service on Thursday of last week for
his mother, Sharonda, a teenager, Chris Singleton, told BBC News:
"We already forgive him for what he's done, and there's nothing but
love from our side of the family."
At Mr Roof's first court appearance last Friday, a succession of
the victims' families spoke of their forgiveness, and urged Mr Roof
to "repent, confess, and turn to God". The New York Times
reported: "It was as if the Bible study had never ended."
The Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina, the Rt
Revd Charles vonRosenberg, has described the Charleston massacre as
an "unimaginable tragedy", and called for "prayer, response, and
Other church leaders have also commented on the shooting.
"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," the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church in the US, Elder Heath Rada, said in a joint statement with
other denominational leaders.
In the UK, the National Church Leaders Forum, representing the
leaders of Black-led churches in Britain, issued a statement
condemning the "act of evil, racism and blasphemy. . . Dr Martin
Luther King Junior reminded us that haters always lose in the end,
for 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards
The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Kenneth
Howcroft, and its Vice-President, Gill Dascombe, wrote to the AME
saying that they were "horrified and deeply saddened" by the
The good of Christian
forgiveness - Angela Tilby