I was in the United Kingdom when I heard the news about Charleston and the brutal killing of nine members of Emanuel AME Church, including Clementa C. Pinckney, the pastor of historic “Mother Emanuel.” Returning to the United States days afterward, I followed the reports of the capture of the young man who shot these believers who were simply attending a Wednesday evening Bible study in their church.

Dylann Roof acted out of hatred and racism, hoping to start a race war, but what shocked a nation was the response of family and friends of the slain Emanuel members. In the face of hatred, they showed love and forgiveness. As the TV cameras rolled, they shocked the reporters and many viewers by their demonstration of Christian love in response to an evil act. Though we would have understood a reaction of bitterness and hunger for revenge, instead the people of Emanuel showed the world what the spirit of Christ can do.

Could we all begin there? Is it possible the expression of Christian love shown by the people of Emanuel can be the starting point for a new spirit of reconciliation between believers of different races and nationalities? Is it possible to transform Sunday morning from “the most segregated hour in America” to a time when we join hands and hearts, and reaching across artificial barriers together serve the kingdom and worship Christ?

The church’s name comes from a word meaning “God with us.” Through its spirit of forgiveness that reflects the presence of Christ, the members showed the truth of their church’s name. Let’s pray the rest of us can do as much in the days ahead.

Michael Duduit

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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