As we approach the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine, ELCA congregations are encouraged to reaffirm their commitment to repenting for the sins of racism and white supremacy, which continue to plague this church. As part of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members adopted a resolution designating June 17 as a commemoration of the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine. Each year this day will be set aside as a time of penitence for ELCA members through study and prayer. An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020, to mark this fifth anniversary. Below you will find a collection of resources that will assist you and your congregations during this time of prayerful reflection, remembrance, and recommitment. More is available at elca.org/emanuelnine.
The Emanuel Nine
On June 17, 2015, Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson – the Emanuel Nine – were murdered by a self-professed white supremacist while they were gathered for Bible study and prayer at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (often referred to as Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina. Our relationship to the shooter as well as two of the slain reminds us of both our complicity and our calling. Together we confess that we are in bondage to the sins of racism and white supremacy and, at the same time, we rejoice in the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus who “has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Ephesians 2:14). May God continue to guide us as we seek repentance and renewal, and racial justice and reconciliation among God’s precious children.
The resources referenced below are provided to help congregations navigate this commemoration and day of repentance. Many of these materials were recently produced for this first year of marking the commemoration; among the others are helpful ELCA websites and documents as well as resources from our ecumenical partners.
In this time of pandemic, many of the resources will need to be adapted for virtual worship, online conversation, or individual reflection and devotion. You are invited to use them in whatever ways are most helpful for your local context.
- “Prayers, Litanies, and Laments for the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine” | PDF |
- “Terror and Prophetic Witness,” a litany by Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr., African Methodist Episcopal Church | PDF |
- “The Doors of the Church Are Still Open,” a litany in memory of the Emanuel Nine by Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, African Methodist Episcopal Church | PDF |
- ELCA “Confession, Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday” (Sept. 6, 2015) | PDF |
- ELCA “Worship Resources: Juneteenth” | PDF |
For many decades, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the African Methodist Episcopal Church have been ecumenical partners through coalitions such as the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC). In the 1990s, our two churches entered into theological dialogue seeking full communion and co-published a congregational resource. Our churches have also engaged in various forms of cooperation and public witness together and with other ecumenical partners. We have participated together in the cross-racial dialogue of the Conference of National Black Churches since 2015 and in the NCC’s A.C.T. Now to End Racism initiative since 2018. As the Office of the Presiding Bishop tends to church-to-church relations nationally, vital relations have been cultivated across the church by bishops, rostered ministers and lay leaders, with key leadership from Lutherans of African descent. We continue to seek ways to deepen and expand our ecumenical partnership across various ministry contexts and communities as part of our ecumenical commitments and churchwide resolutions. You can access an overview of ecumenical relations between the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America here.
You can learn more about the ELCA’s Emanuel Nine commemoration and day of repentance along with accessing additional resources by visiting elca.org/emanuelnine.