June 23, 2015—Dr. Deborah Flemister Mullen, our Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was Dean of Faculty and Executive Vice President at the time this was written. She did cooperated as part of a group of more than thirty African American deans and presidents of Theological Schools who offered the following prayer for Mother Emanuel in Charleston, SC.
As the African American presidents and deans of graduate theological education, we express our profound solidarity with the families and the faithful of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There are not words enough to convey the emotions we feel in the aftermath of the bloodbath. Nine people of faith welcomed the proverbial stranger into the house of prayer. Nine of God’s children subsequently lost their lives. Nine women and men were unceremoniously taken from their loved ones. Nine cherished members of a historic freedom-loving congregation and community are no longer in our midst. Our hearts are heavy and we grieve.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the land of his birth well, better even than most of us today, describing ours as a “sick nation.” At the funeral of four little girls killed by the bigot’s bomb in Birmingham in 1963 he famously made reference to “the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.” A nation that was born in violence continues to harbor violence still. Searing hate is all too often manifested in hearts and minds only to be transmitted from generation to generation. Domestic terror is no respecter of race, ethnicity, gender or faith as churches, mosques, synagogues and temples are time and again defiled. Divisions born of greed and fear rend the nation and tear our very souls apart.
In the midst of unfathomable horror we yet and still proclaim our faith. Out of our deepest pain we embrace all who know agony, sorrow, rage and grief. As a community of scholars, administrators and faith leaders we commit our calling and our lives to the building of a more just and beloved community. Freedom is never free. God grant us the courage to change the things we cannot accept! May we always remember and never forget.
African American Presidents and Deans of Theological Schools