As the one year anniversary of the Charleston church shooting approaches, members of the Emanuel AME Church are keeping their focus on God.
On June 17 last year, nine people were shot and killed while they were gathered for a Bible study in the church’s basement. The suspected shooter is 21-year-old Dylann Roof.
Despite the tragedy, however, church members made headlines when they publicly forgave Roof.
Proving that their trust in God continues despite their grief, the congregation recently took part in a Bible study on Mark 4:1-20 led by Rev. Anthony Thompson, the same passage Myra Thompson, the church’s pastor, was reading from when Roof shot her.
"Now is the time to focus on God," asserted Thompson, who is Myra Thompson's husband.
Thompson added that the congregation is relying on the Bible to get them through their time of grief: "It can change our attitudes; it can change our hearts to be who God wants us to be, to do what God wants us to do," he said.
Roof, who awaits his death penalty trial in November, said he had “no choice” but to kill black people.
"I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country," he wrote.
Roof’s words made the forgiveness of the Emanuel AME church members even more significant.
Publication date: June 16, 2016
Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.