Remembering the Rich History of Emanuel AME Church
We are calling for all of the churches in Minnesota to lift up in prayer Emanuel, the larger AME church, and the victims of this senseless shooting.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap] ransform Minnesota is deeply saddened by this tragic act of violence on Emanuel AME Church in Charleston Wednesday night, and condemns the racist ideology that led to this deadly act.
Based upon what we have learned about the shooter identifying with ideas of white supremacy and things that he is reported to have said during the rampage, this was a racially motivated crime. Not only is it a deplorable act of cowardice, it is evidence that racial hatred still exists within our society. We specifically grieve for the families of these 9 victims, but we also grieve that overt racial prejudice and hate has not been eradicated from American society.
We want to take the time to honor the rich history and leadership of Emanuel AME Church.[dropcap]T[/dropcap] his historic congregation is the oldest of its kind in the South, and has been tied to the history and life of African Americans since the early 1800s. It was founded as an all-black church by worshipers frustrated with the racism in other segregated churches. The church, commonly referred to as “Mother Emanuel” was burned down after planning a thwarted slave revolt.
For years the church worked as part of the Underground Railroad – conducting its meetings in secret to evade laws that banned all-black services. After suffering another blow in the form of an earthquake, the church rebuilt itself yet again. In the 20th century it became a focal point of South Carolina’s civil right movement, hosting speakers such as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins, and Coretta Scott King.
Even still today, “Mother Emanuel” is a place for organizing community events and responding to equality issues.
This tragedy hits close to many in our community.
There are four African Methodist Episcopal congregations in Minnesota. As the AME motto proclaims, “God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit our Comforter, Humankind our Family,” which means this church is family to us all.
Rev. Richard Coleman, Executive Board member of Transform Minnesota, ordained in the AME Church, and the former leader of St. Peter’s AME Church in Minneapolis has visited Emanuel before, “It’s a civic and denomination landmark. A gorgeous, hallowed place that is known throughout the AME Church.”
Local AME Churches are meeting today in an annual “Sunday School Convention” at St. James AME in St Paul, MN. “We will surely be praying and discerning God’s directions concerning these incidents as we handle other matters. Please pray with us,” asked Rev. Coleman.
For more on the history of Emanuel AME Church, read this Washington Post Article.
This post has been updated based on additional information learned about the shooter’s motives.