The shooting of nine African Americans inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 17 rocked the country, re-starting debates about gun control and the Confederate flag and sparking deeper conversations about racism and forgiveness. Last week, funerals for the victims began and members of Mother Emmanuel, as the church is called, gathered for worship and their Wednesday evening Bible study where the shooting took place. President Obama delivered a stirring eulogy Friday, emphasizing the important role of grace in our lives and talking about systemic issues of racism. Addressing racism in the United States is not easy, but it’s necessary. Our faith calls to us love our neighbors and respect each person’s human dignity. These teachings are not limited to those who look like us. Religious leaders have weighed in, including Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber who preached a sermon on the tragic event. Other white people in the faith community are speaking out about their own struggles with racism and the need to face them head on. Pause for a few moments of silent reflection and prayer for the victims of the Charleston shooting, and then begin a conversation about young adults’ reactions to the shootings and its implications:
- What was your reaction to the shootings in Charleston?
- How do you or your church work to fight against hate and racism in your community? In your own church? What do you do to promote love and respect among all people?
- What do you see others or other churches doing that you wish you could do?
- There has been a lot of conversation in the media and in churches about the forgiveness expressed by some of the victims’ families. What do you think of their statements of forgiveness?