Yesterday I wrote my own thoughts on recent events in Charleston, SC. Today I read the following statement and it speaks to the same events with far more eloquence. I felt that I would be remiss if I did not share it here. The message is meaningful for Christians and Non-Christians alike.
On June 18, 2015, in News/Events, by Diocesan Staff
June 18, 2015
As the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Georgia we offer our condolences to all who are suffering from the result of callous and calculated violence that struck down nine fellow Christians Wednesday evening as they gathered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to study God’s word.
We don’t know and may never understand the motivation for such an evil act.
What is undeniable is that even though evil made itself known in a church while people sought the comfort of their faith, we know that evil will not have the last word. As we weep with those who mourn today, we are assured that even amidst the blood love wins!
God’s mercy is with the dead, with those who have lost loved ones and with the one who pulled the trigger.
But we must be clear: our work does not end with the home-going services of these faithful martyrs. The vicious act directed at worshipers in Emanuel AME Church was not only murder, it was also a racial hate crime. To reach any other conclusion is to be willfully blind to our history and to the current state of our culture.
The perpetrator was not born to hate. God did not create him so. Somewhere along the way in his life he was taught to hate, and not just to hate, but to hate black people.
Until we as a society address such hatred and its sources such tragedies will continue. Because of that we renew our commitment to seeking truth and reconciliation among people of all races, creeds and cultures.
At its base racism, in all its forms, is sin. It is founded on a lie and is therefore an affront to God, an abuse of power and a demonic spirit. Racism is depravity and deviance from Jesus’ example and teaching about the sanctity of human dignity and the oneness of the human family.
Racism injures both the victim and the perpetrator. The victim of racism is constantly and culturally force-fed a diet of inferiority, indignity and shame simply for being born as God designed.
Each of us must confess all that is in us that’s hostile to love and remember we are assured of God’s absolute forgiveness. Then we commit, from this day forward, to lives that actively enlarge justice, tear down inequity, make restitution and increase reconciliation.
Only these things can purge us of the awful lie that divides and destroys us. By these works we are tuned instruments of peace and ambassadors for Christ now.
To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
s/ (The Right Rev.) Scott A. Benhase s/ (The Right Rev.) Robert C. Wright
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta