A Prayer for the Emmanuel AME Church from Presbytery of Philadelphia Leadership

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble?”  Habakkuk 1:2-3

June 18, 2015

Beloved of the Presbytery,

Shock. Grief. A sense of bewilderment. These are our shared reactions to the tragedy in Charleston. Innocent, good people slaughtered. Yet again!

Are we really that surprised that something like this could happen? In this country, at this time? Tragically, we aren’t. There are too many instances of hatred and bigotry in the world, including our own nation.

The questions haunt us: How does a young man become so twisted in his mind that these actions seem like a logical choice? Who fuels this type of thinking?

So we respond with anger, perhaps making us feel just a little better for a short period of time. But anger alone can become corrosive and lead us away to a dark path.

So what can we do now?

May we hold those who died, their families, their church and community, in our hearts. God is with them – don’t doubt that. God is with us – don’t doubt that.

May we pray that we are able to discern paths and walk in such a way that will bring hope.

May these very paths lead the church to pursue justice, for justice is surely needed.

May these paths fight hatred and fear with the assurance that not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

May we hold each other closely in our hearts and lean on our Lord.

In the Name of Christ,

Mike Henry
Moderator of the Presbytery of Philadelphia


A Prayer for the Emmanuel AME Church from Presbytery of Philadelphia Leadership.

(Please click here for a Bulletin-size PDF to share with your congregation: PresbyteryPrayer_EmmanuelAME

God of Peace, we once again are unsettled and bewildered, crying out on behalf of those whose lives have been unjustly taken by others blinded by racism and hardened to difference.

We grieve and lament yet another time, no longer surprised by the hatred and ignorance that has become our oppressive norm.

We are wearied by generations of perceived progress slowed in an instant by tragedy and terror.

We are angered by the bigotry that corrodes the conscience of our citizens and breeds in our communities.

We echo the timeless plea, “How Long?,” as we wait and hope and dare to anticipate deliverance from troubling violence that surrounds us on all sides.

Faithful God, draw near. Draw near to the family and friends of the nine who died as they worshipped, prayed, and studied your Word. Draw near to the congregation and community who grieve the loss of their pastor, civic leaders, and beloved residents. Draw near to those we know as enemies, transform their hearts and minds too often twisted around hatred and violence. Draw near to all of us burdened by rage. Lead us to be agents of change and advocates of renewal.

Along the way, listen to our laments, be with us in our angst, and assure us that death does not have the last word. All the more, hasten the day when violence and injustice are no more.

In the name of the Crucified and Resurrected Christ, Amen.