A Message from Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director
My son, Jonathan, and I visited Charleston, South Carolina during his recent spring break. While there, we worshipped with the congregation of Mother Emmanuel AME Church. Bearing words of friendship and support from the 44 member-church Lafayette Urban Ministry board of directors, we were welcomed by Pastor Eric Manning and church members with warmth, grace and hospitality.
There remain outward signs of the tragedy that occurred there 21 months ago. A shrine of flowers dignifies the front entrance to the church. A uniformed security guard keeps mostly out of sight. Bolts of white satin cover the communion rail, pulpit and just about everything else on the alter.
Over the course of the morning’s worship, it was clear to me that God is hard at work at Mother Emmanuel. Healing and remembrance remains a major part of the congregation’s reality. The church has supported family members of the slain throughout the recent trial and conviction of the mass murderer.
They continue that support as the killer’s execution approaches. But mainly I found the church to be so wonderfully vibrant — a faith-filled place of worship, music, song, prayer, inspired preaching and service to others. The tragedy has placed the church squarely into the national epicenter of the struggle for African American civil rights. The congregation acknowledges that reality and bears the responsibility willingly, with grace and courage.
Jonathan and I both were blessed by our Sunday morning at Mother Emmanuel. Please keep Pastor Manning, the leadership and entire congregation in your prayers as they seek to be Christ to each other, to Charleston, and to our entire nation.