ELCA presiding bishop to attend funeral in Charleston, S.C.

6/25/2015 3:00:00 PM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will attend the June 26 funeral of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was among the nine people killed June 17 at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.

            Accompanying the presiding bishop is the Rev. Herman R. Yoos III, bishop of the ELCA South Carolina Synod; Judith B. Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries; and the Rev. Albert Starr Jr., director for ELCA Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries.
            "In these immediate days we are in mourning. The time for action will come," Eaton said. "Right now we need to sit with our grief – grief that the racism within and around us has led to the death of nine children of God. This is a Holy Saturday time for our church. We cannot rush from the cross to the resurrection without abiding at the tomb."
            Pinckney and the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, were graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – an institution of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. The Columbia, S.C.-based seminary is one of eight ELCA seminaries; Lenoir-Rhyne is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities. At age 23, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives – the youngest African American to gain such a seat. He was elected to the state Senate four years later.
            "The suspected shooter (Dylann Roof) is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own," said Eaton in a June 18 public statement.
            "The Rev. Mr. Pinckney leaves a wife and children. The other eight victims leave grieving families. The family of the suspected killer and two congregations are broken. When will this end?" Eaton said.
            In her public statement, the presiding bishop called for ELCA members to "spend a day in repentance and mourning," which will be Sunday, June 28. A revised worship resource, "A Service of Repentance and Mourning" is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Service_of_Repentance_and_Mourning.pdf.
            Eaton's public statement is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org
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