calendar June 19, 2015 in ELCA

ELCA Leaders Express Grief Over SC Shootings

CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), released a statement June 18 in response to a shooting where nine people were killed at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C. Local authorities are calling the killing racially motivated.

“It has been a long season of disquiet in our country. From Ferguson to Baltimore, simmering racial tensions have boiled over into violence. But this … the fatal shooting of nine African Americans in a church is a stark, raw manifestation of the sin that is racism,” said Eaton.

Two of the victims – the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and the Rev. Daniel Simmons of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston – were graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, an institution of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. The Columbia, S.C.-based seminary is one of eight ELCA seminaries; Lenoir-Rhyne is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.

“The suspected shooter is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own,” said Eaton.

“Racism is a fact in American culture. Denial and avoidance of this fact are deadly. The Rev. Mr. Pinck​ney leaves a wife and children. The other eight victims leave grieving families. The family of the suspected killer and two congregations are broken. When will this end?”