The anniversary of the massacre at Mother Emanuel is on June 17th, and the church is planning events for 12 days to remember the nine lives lost and continue the healing.
Emanuel AME Church’s Pastor, Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark, says, “To be honest with you, I’m looking forward to none of it because I am sorry we are having to do this.”
Rev. Dr. Clark says the community is still in pain and 12 days of memorials, prayer services, and race discussions will help make strides forward.
She says, “Once we examine that hopefully we can find healing and restoration as a result of that. And if we find that, we can share the message with the world and it will make the world a better place.”
The series of events called “Victory in the Valley” starts on Wednesday, June 15th with a Bible study. The Bible study will be led by Rev. Anthony Thompson, husband of Myra Thompson who was teaching the Bible study the night of the shooting and was one of the victims.
Rev. Dr. Clark says, “We’re using the exact Bible study that she taught. We’re continuing her work, her legacy by using that as a two part bible study.”
There are more than 20 events over the course of the series, ending with a candlelight vigil and service of the bells.
Rev. Dr. Clark says, “Churches from around the city will synchronize the ringing of their church bells, ending here with Mother Emanuel.”
There will also be panels and discussions on improving race relations. City and church representatives say the purpose is to heal, and make improvements for the future.
Mike Whack, assistant to Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, says, “Find something that might be meaningful to you and then come out and share, witness, see how others are dealing with the same kind of hurt and pain from that tragedy.”
Rev. Dr. Clark says, “I want to make it meaningful. I want to make sure there is a good takeaway point. I want people to feel what we feel, to see what we see, to understand our pain, so that out of our pain, healing can come to our world.”
The series is named “Victory in the Valley” after the sermon which helped the Emanuel congregation cope with the loss in the weeks following the shooting. For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.