In their own words

If the prophet Jeremiah was present, he would be walking through the streets of Charleston, weeping and crying about the conditions and circumstances that are taking place not just in Charleston but across this nation and calling people to realize the pain that is created not just for the community but for God himself.

Pastor Ricky Woods,

First Baptist West Church

What happened Wednesday night wasn’t just an assault on nine people in a church, horrible as that is. But it was also an assault on God. Someone came into God’s house, which we call a “sanctuary,” a “safe place,” and killed God’s people – and all nine of those people were made in God’s image; God knit them together in their mother’s womb; they are beautiful and precious to God. But the white guest who joined them in their church thought they were ugly and despicable, and in that he is assaulting God ... for if we see anyone as less than beautiful or worthy it is an attack on God.

Pastor James Howell,

Myers Park United Methodist Church

That black men are being gunned down, some shot in their backs, in the streets is horrific. That black women are being degraded on sidewalks, insulted, disrespected by police officers whose actions are being condemned even by their peers is horrific. But a church? A place of worship? Surely now, in these times, African Americans can find sanctuary from the scourge of racism there. Now we know differently. Now we know that our nation’s great evil can find its way into a room of faith-filled people in prayer and can leave such immense sorrow in its wake.

Senior Minister Jay Leach,

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte

Wednesday evening, gunshots shattered our sense of sanctuary. Hatred once again reigned, filling our headlines. Thursday came and there was fellowship but not comfort because we are too tired to find comfort. We are too tired of gun violence. We are too tired of racism and hatred. We are too tired of weeping – again and again and again. How many times and how many tragedies will it take?

Rabbi Judy Schindler,

Temple Beth El

This tragedy is a call to action for us to engage with an even deeper commitment to racial reconciliation. We are called by the lives lost at Emanuel AME church. We are called by its century-long stand for justice and liberation for African-Americans. We are called to find our place in that work, whatever that place may be, for, not only is it unfinished, it is a gaping and open wound in America, for all Americans.

Pastor John Cleghorn,

Caldwell Presbyterian Church