Charlotte Clergy Respond to Charleston

Read it in the Charlotte Observer Here.

"Our calling is not just within the walls of the congregation.  We are part of the life and community in which our congregation resides.” Called by these words from our slain colleague, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, we as clergy throughout Charlotte stand in witness with our brothers and sisters in Charleston.

We are sick in our souls at the news of nine murdered in Charleston.  We are sick in our souls and weary of the news of slain black individuals.  We hear our deceased colleague’s call to speak beyond the walls of our particular places of worship and to gather, together, to re-consecrate and re-commit our communities to a vision of justice paved by peace.  We are angry and we are heart-broken.  We are devastated that a sacred space with people gathered for prayer could become the site of a hate crime.  In the midst of our fear, rage and overwhelming sadness, we are called by the memory of those killed and by the spirit of Emanuel AME Church itself.

We know the history of Emanuel AME- a place of perseverance, prophecy and persistence.  A church once banned by the state and shaken by an earthquake, throughout its 199-year history it has nonetheless continued to help bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

We also know Emanuel AME was once burned to the ground in retaliation for a slave rebellion.  Indeed the foundation of the AME church is built upon the bodies of martyrs who resisted racism, slavery and violence.

From the lives of those killed in Charleston, South Carolina to the black bodies fallen in our nation’s streets, a cloud of witnesses is gathered before us.  We cannot be silent to their cries.  We cannot stay within the walls of our particular places of worship.  We are tied in an inextricable network of mutuality.

We affirm the declaration “Black Lives Matter” now being heard across this country.  We echo its call for clear recognition and courageous reform of the racism embedded in our society.

We join the chorus of peaceful witness pleading for stricter control over access to guns.  We unapologetically refuse to engage in paralyzing politeness or syncretistic silence.  We commit to the uncomfortable, difficult, painful, soulful work of eradicating racism and building beloved community.  We acknowledge as Reverend William Lamar of the Washington AME Church said, “The one who pulled the trigger in Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, had a mind that was made in America.”

We refuse to believe the lies that we are genetically different races or inherently different people.  We refuse to believe or promote the belief that how we look on the outside portends something meaningful about our inside. 

We affirm a core belief that we are each made in the image of God and believe that we should all be respected as such.

We believe a better, more beloved world is possible.   We believe in the shared endeavors of the human spirit and efficacy of our collective hopes.      We believe in justice and in equity.  We believe that the true soul of Charlotte—a spirit of cooperation and compassion–could yet prevail.


With a faith beyond walls,

The Charlotte NAACP

The Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice


The United Missionary Baptist Association

Imam Khalil A. Akbar, Resident Imam of Masjid Ash Shaheed.
Rev. Amantha L Barbee, Pastor, Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church (USA) Charlotte, NC
Rev. Karen Easter Bayne, Senior Minister, Dilworth United Methodist Church.
Rev. Amy E. Brooks, Consulting Minister, UU Fellowship of Lake Norman
Steven Burleson, Youth Minister, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ
Rev. John Cleghorn, Caldwell Presbyterian Church
Rev. Robin Coira, Executive Minister, Myers Park Baptist Church
Rev. Mary Frances Comer, Affiliated Community Minister, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Dr. Deborah Conner, Myers Park Presbyterian
Rev. Nancy Ellett Allison, Ph.D., Pastor Holy Covenant United Church of Christ
Reverend Malu Flowers Fairley
Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD, Senior Minister, St. John’s Baptist Church
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Temple Beth El, Charlotte, NC
Rev. Erika Funk, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte
Reverend Donnie R. Garris
Rev. Dr.  Susan A. Heafner-Heun, Pastor, Inclusion Community UMC
Rev. Jennifer Helms Jarrell, QC Family Tree
Rev. Julie Hester, Associate Pastor, Myers Park Presbyterian Church
Rev. Chris Hughes, Minister of Youth, Myers Park Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. James C. Howell, Myers Park United Methodist Church
Rev. Greg Jarrell, QC Family Tree
Ryusho Jeffus, Shonin, BCC
Dr. David Jordan, Teaching Pastor, Providence Baptist Church, Charlotte.
Rev. Martha Kearse
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Kraft, Pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Pastor Mary S Lautensieger
The Reverend Carol Anne Lawler
Rev. Jay Leach, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
Reverend Sonja Lee, Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte
Dr. Steve Lindsley, Senior Minister, Trinity Presbyterian Church of Charlotte
The Rev. Dr. Richard (Dick) C. Little, Lutheran (ELCA) - Retired
Rev. David Lytle
Rev. Tricia Gardner Lytle
Charles R. MacDonald, Retired minister (PCUSA)
Rev. Dr. Susan MacDonald Roddey
Minister Corine Mack, President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP
The Rev. Lib McGregor Simmons, Pastor, Davidson College Presbyterian Church
Rev./Rvda. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director/Directora Ejecutiva, BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz
Dr. Tim Moore, Writer-in-residence, Sardis Baptist Church, Charlotte
Rev. Melissa Mummert, Affiliated Community Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
The Rev. Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Jessica R. Patchett, Associate Minister, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Charlotte
Imam John Ramadan, Masjid Ar-Razzaq, Islamic Faith
Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls, Pastor, Sacred Souls Community Church, Charlotte, NC
Rev. O. Hunter Roddey, Chaplain
Rev. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bible, Union Presbyterian Seminary Charlotte Campus
Rabbi Judith Schindler , Temple Beth El, Charlotte, North Carolina
Rev. Millie Snyder, Executive Pastor, Myers Park Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Robin Tanner, Lead Minister of the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Tom Tate, Pastor, Plaza Presbyterian Church
Rev. Chrissy Tatum Williamson, Minister of Faith Formation, Myers Park Baptist Church
Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas
Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush, Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church
Rev. Danny Trapp, Executive Director, MeckMin
Rev. Deborah C Warren, Founder, President & CEO- RAIN
Rev. Dr. Peter Wherry, Pastor, Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Jolin Wilks McElroy, Pastor, First Christian Church, Charlotte
Rev. Jason Williams, MeckMinRev. Joanie Williams, Minister of Music, Sardis Baptist Church Brother Kojo Nantambu                                                                                                         Reverend Donnie R. Garris                                                                                                             Dr. Russ and Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, Co-Pastors, Park Road Baptist Church                                  Rev. Katelyn Gordon, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC                        Rev. Jane Summey Mullennix, Parish Associate, Avondale Presbyterian Church