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Sunday Morning in Charleston

On Sunday, June 21, just days after nine people were killed during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, Kate Shellnutt, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee University, attended Sunday service with members of the congregation.

Kate, who is a reporter for Christianity Today magazine and co-editor of its blog Her.meneutics, wrote that it was a day filled with praise for the Lord. “Tucked away in the back row of the balcony, part of me wondered, ‘Rejoice? Right now? On this day?’ I was overruled by the 500-plus crowd below, who shouted along with him .”

She added, “It kept coming. Prayers thanking God for his blessings. For waking them up this morning. A reading from 1 Thessalonians: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’ (5:16-18, KJV). They literally sounded the trumpet, making a joyful noise with praise anthems and soloists walking the aisles until the cordless mic started cutting in and out.”

Despite all eyes on Charleston and talk focusing on the Confederate flag and racism, Kate noted that the major topic for most people focused on justice and forgiveness. “Black and white residents—at least the churchgoers I spoke with—largely defy Roof’s premise, striving to come together in prayer, discussion, and action, rather than letting the deadliest hate crime in the state’s history divide them further.”

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