CHARLESTON, S.C. –Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) has indicated it is ready to start distributing the funds from donations made to the church in honor of the tragedy there the night of June 17 when nine parishioners, many of them acting in official ministerial roles, were tragically gunned down during a Bible study.
The Moving Forward Fund was established by Mother Emanuel to methodically account for donations sent to the church. Total donations came to approximately $3,400,000. The church has designated four categories: the Mother Emanuel Fund, which the historic church plans to use for physical plant improvements in keeping with the shared vision of the church members and the late Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney; a Memorial Fund, set aside to create a living, physical memorial tribute to the victims and their families; and the Mother Emanuel / Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney Endowment Fund, for future scholarships and community outreach. The church received notice of the wishes of the donors, whereby approximately $280,000 was designated for the Mother Emanuel Nine fund to be donated to the estates of the victims whose lives were lost on June 17.
As noted in past releases, the majority of the funds were made to the church itself. Notably, the church has decided to contribute a significant portion of the funds received that were designated for the church. The church will donate approximately $1,135,000 to the estates of the families of the victims and the five survivors. As Mother Emanuel makes its contributions to the families of the victims, it will donate those assets through the City of Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, totaling approximately $1,415,000 to disburse according to a process they have established for fair and equitable distribution. Additionally, the sum of approximately $80,000 was received by the church that was meant for the City’s Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, and will be transferred there.
Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., interim pastor for Mother Emanuel and presiding elder for the Edisto District, added, “The church, in its benevolence has made what we feel is a tremendous gift out of honor to the victim’s families and the survivors too. We continue the healing process, but this marks a passage in that healing inasmuch as we are close to where we can apply these kind and generous donations to tangible needs within Mother Emanuel, plan a fitting memorial to our fallen and faithful nine and their families, conduct more formidable community outreach, and of course, as well as at every step of the process, honor the victims, their families and now the survivors too.”
Leon Alston, chairperson pro tem of the board of Stewards for the church noted, “Our compassion and caring continue to go out for all of those still suffering from this loss. We are comforted by the decision to extend our financial reach and have the families and survivors of the Mother Emanuel Nine continue to know they’re not forgotten.”
Due to pending legal action a firm date for final distribution of the funds has not been set. The lawsuit necessitated additional examination and evaluation of the donations, also suspending disbursement of the funds. “The pending legal action precludes the distribution of any funds by Mother Emanuel until such time as the financial records are inspected. The church anticipates distribution once that inspection has been finalized,” according to attorney Wilbur Johnson.
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation was first formed in 1791, a coalition of free blacks and slaves. At first they were members of Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal Church, but in 1816 they left their white counterparts in a dispute over burial grounds. At the time, the church was 1,400 members strong. They rallied behind the leadership of Rev. Morris Brown (who later was elected the second Bishop of the A.M.E. Church) and organized under the banner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is referred to as “Mother Emanuel.” Emanuel A.M.E. Church is a fixture in Charleston. With seats for 1,500, it has the largest capacity of any African-American church in Charleston. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest A.M.E. church in the south.