June 17 marks the fifth anniversary of the shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people of African descent were killed by a white supremacist during a Bible study.
To honor this day, the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution to establish June 17 as the “Emanuel 9 Day of Repentance,” commemorating the martyrdom of Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Myra Thompson by Dylann Roof, who was raised in an ELCA congregation. Pinckney and Simmons were graduates of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C., one of the ELCA’s seven seminaries.
The ELCA resolution calls for the commemoration to be grounded in prayer, the development of litanies and worship around repentance from racism, and for deepening conversation with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) on ways of reconciliation and repentance on the matters of racism and white supremacy.
The ELCA Prayer Service for Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine will be available online at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on June 17. Participants include ELCA leaders representing various leadership groups and ethnic-specific associations, and those who authored and organized the “Emanuel 9 Day of Repentance” resolution.
Additionally, several ecumenical partners will participate, including Adam J. Richardson Jr., senior bishop of the AME Church; Jim Winkler, general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches; and W. Franklyn Richardson, chair of the Conference of National Black Churches. Herman Yoos, bishop of the South Carolina Synod, and Samuel L. Green Sr., presiding bishop of the 7th Episcopal District of the AME Church, will co-host the service. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, will deliver the sermon.
The service will conclude with a call to action from three ELCA leaders, including the presiding bishop, Vice President William Horne and Tracie Bartholomew, chair of the Conference of Bishops.
Some ELCA congregations, including Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Cincinnati—in partnership with Allen Temple AME Church and Anderson Churches for Racial Unity—will hold local commemorations and prayer vigils. More information about the ELCA’s ecumenical relationship with the AME Church and resources to help congregations honor this day are available here.