A statement from the Union Community:
It is with a heavy heart that we express our profound sadness for the victims of the shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church last night in Charleston, South Carolina. At this point, words fail to capture the anger, confusion, grief, pain, and trauma that we feel. We wish for the words that we do have to hold the families of those we’ve lost last night. We pray for the comfort of those who knew and loved the nine people who were stolen from us.
We recognize that the A.M.E. church is part of the fabric of the story of Black liberation. Emanuel Church was founded by worshipers who labored to escape the evil of slavery in the United States. This particular church has served as the site of planning meetings to the goal of civil rights and resistance. We honor the legacy of this place, and in others, as holding a space for people to love God and organize against the Sin of Racism.
Today, we speak the name of Denmark Vesey, the organizer of slave uprisings and a leader of this church. We also honor the history of June 16, 1822, when a foiled slave rebellion of church members catalyzed the writing of new laws by which Black congregations could not worship without surveillance. We honor the soon-coming date of Juneteenth, the celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. We speak the names of the four little girls killed at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. We speak the names our Muslim brothers and sisters who are targeted and placed under surveillance. We lament that even our spaces of worship are not safe.
In that way, we acknowledge the role of White Supremacy and the Sin of Racism as integral parts of this terror attack. In a world that is so filled with evil, we scramble to find places that bring joy, happiness, and peace. We are grateful for the work of Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi who gifted us with the framework and phrase “Black Lives Matter.” We labor to ensure that those words are heard everywhere and every day, and we repent for the times we have missed the mark.
We hold in our hearts and minds a supremely heavy burden. May we work together, love together, and mourn as beloved members of a community. We cry out for Emanuel, meaning, God with us. May the Divine visit us and keep us together.
As Brothers and Sisters of Faith,
The Union Community