Yesterday, we visited Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Just 18 months ago, nine African-American church members, including the pastor, were killed by a young white man. After sitting in the Bible study around the table, they stood to pray together and he opened fire.
I felt this recent history in the pit of my stomach as I walked into the church and sat in the sanctuary with my classmates. We heard from the current pastor and a lay leader and could sense in them both a deep sense of grace and the struggle of moving forward.
The sentencing phase for the killer, Dylan Roof, begins today, January 3. Pray for him, the victims' families, and for the community here in Charleston. Also pray for our Houston community.
I recently wrote in one of my class reflection papers about community:
The Latin root of the word "community" can be broken in two parts — "comm" meaning "with" and "unity." As its origins suggest, "community" is rooted in relationships; it is a shared life in which we all participate.
What does community mean to you? How does living in Houston and worshipping at St. Paul’s shape your definition of community?