This week from Charleston
The murders of the nine worshippers at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in South Carolina have had an enormous impact across the country and the globe. Last week, I attended and participated in an ecumenical service to pray for the victims of the tragedy, for the church and for the people of South Carolina. The service was sponsored by the Jefferson County Black Clergy Association and brought together churches across Jefferson County for prayer and reflection. I spoke on the idea of Justice and that the lives will not be lost in vain, and that ultimately, justice will be done.
I also participated in two nights of the nine-night vigil on the steps of McMurran Hall commemorating each of the nine victims. This was truly a Shepherdstown event. Thanks to all who put this together. It is entirely appropriate to focus on the victims as actual people and not just as nameless victims.
In Jefferson County, we need to always reflect on the power of the Civil War and the fractures that have never healed. We literally live in the middle of it every day. On April 9th–the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, I wrote on Facebook: “The bells are ringing in Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown and across the land to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. This is a solemn moment for many, particularly here in the Shenandoah Valley, where the long shadow of the war is never far away. Take a moment and reflect on the 620,000 American lives lost.?” That shadow is ever present. We are never far from flags and monuments to the dead and to.uncomfortable questions. I have been in Shepherdstown when young men, with Maryland license plates, have driven their trucks through town waving the Confederate battle flag. Why? What point are they making? We all need to answer tough questions about the war and our community. In so many ways, we have much in common with Charleston and South Carolina. Let’s not stop asking questions while we honor and remember those who lost their lives last week and 150 years ago.