Dr. Alveda King, Others Call for Prayer in Wake of Charleston Church Shooting

By Al Perrotta Published on June 19, 2015

Dylann Roof, the suspect in last night’s mass murder at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC, has been captured. The horror of what happened remains harder to grasp. Roof, a 21-year-old white male, reportedly joined a Wednesday night prayer meeting, then stood up and systematically began gunning down worshippers.  “I have to do it!” Roof allegedly said, offering as explanation for his actions a racially-motivated, hate-filled reason. He left nine dead in the church, including the pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pickney.

President Obama, who knew Sen. Pickney, spoke on the tragedy. After expressing “the heartache and the sadness and the anger we feel” and quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama took the opportunity to promote gun control.

Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, called on the nation to look heavenward. “This isn’t time for violent riots or race baiting,” she said. “It’s time for prayer and leadership,” she said. “Officials at all levels, mayor, police, governor, National Guard, congress, president need to pray and enforce peace and justice.”

“Evil knows no color,” Dr. King said in her statement, reminding us she, herself, had a family member killed inside a house of worship.

My grandmother Alberta King was shot down and killed by a crazed black man while playing the organ in Ebenezer Church in Atlanta in 1974. My mother Naomi King, Daddy AD’s wife was in the ambulance with BigMama when she died. We didn’t riot, we prayed. Decisive prayerful and positive action is needed now! Granddaddy King said pray and forgive.

Pray, don’t riot. People are being slaughtered in the womb, in their beds and, for God’s sake, while worshipping in church. This isn’t just about race. It’s time for the human race of Acts 17:26 to PRAY FOR AMERICA!

The message to pray and seek Christ has also been sent out to the alleged perpetrator.

Award-winning black gospel singer Marcus Stanley, who himself survived being shot 8 times in a gang attack, left a message on Dylann Roof’s Facebook page. (The Facebook page has been taken down, but you can see the complete message here.) Stanley says, in part:

I don’t look at you with the eyes of hatred, or judge you by your appearance or race, but I look at you as a human being that made a horrible decision to take the lives of 9 living & breathing people. …  Give your heart to Jesus and confess your sins with a heart of forgiveness. He is the only one that can save your soul and forgive you for the terrible act that you have done. I love you Dylann even in the midst of the darkness and pain you’ve caused, but more importantly, HE loves you.

Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church near Washington D.C., also weighed in. “For every optimist who believed U.S. race problems would fade as Millennials come into their own, here’s the punch in the gut,” he said. “The only long-term solution will be the one Rev. Pinckney preached with his life: to reject retaliation (which solves nothing), to refuse to hate back. The job for police, businesses, blacks, whites and local leaders now is to begin to create the solidarity that can rebuild trust and ultimately restore hope.”

In the wake of the tragedy, people outside Emanuel AME church gathered together in prayer circles. This afternoon, the faithful — black and white — gathered at another African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, Morris Brown AME Church for a memorial service and prayer vigil.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was among the speakers. “If this can happen in church, we’ve got some praying to do,” she said. “If there’s one thing we can do in South Carolina it’s pray. … We are a state of faith, we are a state of prayer, we are a state of love.”

Among the hymns sung at the service, “My Hope is Built.” It’s second verse goes:

When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds with the veil.

Then the memorable refrain:

On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Prayers for the AME family, Charleston and our nation continue.




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