Charleston: The Holy City
It was heart breaking to watch the unfolding story of the slayings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on Wednesday evening. A group of AME parishioners gathered for Wednesday night bible study and fellowship… were slaughtered as they gathered for prayer.
If you grew up in the south, you probably know that Wednesday night at church is significant on the weekly calendar… falling only behind Sunday services in significance.
By Thursday morning we knew that nine people had been killed… murdered where they felt safest. They reportedly died at the hands of a young man who sat among then for more than an hour… before he unleashed his evil inside their holy house.
A young white male, whose heart you can only assume was filled with hate, was welcomed into this house of worship by a group of African American men and women with love in their hearts. In the simplest sense, they had encountered a wolf in sheep's clothing.
I had the great fortune of living in the Charleston area for eight years early in my career. It's a wonderful city! Its history and beauty are enchanting. Its citizens are warm and inviting. Its southern charms are off the charts.
And while we bask in the shadow of Charlotte's tall towers, holding them out as a symbol of our booming metropolis… Charleston is a low slung city barely rising above the level of the Ashley and Cooper rivers. What you will notice however are the spires of Charleston's church steeples.
They are Charleston's tall towers.
In fact no buildings on the peninsula are allowed to be built higher than Charleston's steeples. The houses of worship that these spires rise above are home to Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Christians, blacks and whites alike. It's a city that reveres its history… and openly shows its faith.
For a lot of folks west of the Mississippi, they don't know the difference between Charlotte and Charleston. Sadly, tragically and almost unbelievably a whole lot of people will have a new image of Charleston South Carolina by tonight.
My heart aches for Charleston and is heavy for the members of Emanuel AME Church. The "Holy City" will heal. It has survived everything from civil war to a memorable hurricane named Hugo. Its citizens are strong and faithful… they will help each other heal.