We have just gotten back from going on vacation. Of course we chose the hottest week of the year to go. And we decided in the spring that we would go south! Our daughter went to the College of Charleston, and we hadn’t been back in years, so we headed there. As well, we have always wanted to go to Savannah, so yes, we went really south to Georgia! We were on a mission to Charleston because Al, a guy I know from the food pantry at NCEON, asked me to deliver a donation to the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church there.
If you don’t remember, Emmanuel A.M.E was the place where 9 members of the church were murdered during bible study on June 17, 2015. That horrific event had stuck in my mind because of our connection with Charleston. The church was close to the visitor center, so we walked over. We met with Lee Bennett, one of the church elders, who was kind to us and showed us and several other couples around. He was a pall bearer during the funerals. The church is one of the oldest African American churches in the country. Church members were harassed and persecuted prior to the Civil War, because slaves were not allowed to engage in religious activities. One of the church founders, Denmark Vesey, was executed in 1818, along with others, after a plot to free slaves was discovered. The original church was burned to the ground. Although security is tighter now after the terrible events of 2015, Mr. Bennett made the point that everyone is still invited to attend services. It is “God’s house” he said emphatically. They had bible study the next week after the shooting. It is funny how small things can lead to bigger things. The visit to Emmanuel made the trip for us and left an indelible mark on us. It was a powerful reminder of the evil in the world but also one of the power of God and the persistence of the human spirit to seek God.