Charleston, the responses

The Ku Klux Klan has a permit to protest removal of Confederate flag on July 18 at the South Carolina Statehouse.

At my church on Sunday, June 28, we sang a new hymn printed in the bulletin. It was They Met to Read the Bible by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a pastor from Wilmington, Delaware, to the tune of Beneath the Cross of Jesus (ST. CHRISTOPHER 7.6.8.6.8.6.8.6):

They met to read the Bible,
they gathered for a prayer,
They worshiped God and shared with friends
and welcomed strangers there.
They went to church to speak of love,
To celebrate God’s grace.
O Lord, we tremble when we hear
What happened in that place.

O God of love and justice,
we thank you for the nine.

I then realized this song was in specific response to the Charleston shooting, and I could barely finish singing it, because I was sobbing too much.

Here are stories in The New Yorker and the Presbyterian Church USA News.
KKK_gun
Meanwhile:

Obama’s Graceful Pause in Charleston. “The power in the president’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney came not from his singing, but from the silence that preceded it.”

A string of fires in the South at black churches is being investigated. One church burned by the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago in South Carolina apparently was NOT arson, this time.

The Ku Klux Klan has a permit to protest the removal of the Confederate flag on July 18 at the South Carolina Statehouse, “with the group calling accused mass murderer Dylann Roof a ‘young warrior.'” Actually, I think this is great. Seriously. It puts to lie the notion that the Confederate battle flag was just some quaint artifact of the past, but is still a symbol of hate and oppression.

There is an open carry bill – that means guns- in the South Carolina state legislature. Hope it doesn’t pass anytime soon.

The Emmaus/RISSE (probable) arson

“The need in Albany is clear: Refugee families need long-term mentoring and education as they build new lives after experiences of trauma, dislocation, and relocation.”

risseIt’s human nature, I suppose, to be more strongly affected by tragedies that are close to home. I’m a former United Methodist, and I know the building at 240 West Lawrence Street in Albany, which was once a parsonage for the Emmaus United Methodist Church; I once helped the pastor move in one July 4. I’ve attended the church occasionally at Emmaus, and knew a subsequent pastor rather well, including attending her first service at the church, also, ss it turns out, on an Independence Day.

The first bit of news I read this week was this from AlbanySNN, the school notification site:

The after-school tutoring program at Emmaus United Methodist Church on Morris Street is cancelled until further notice due to a Tuesday morning fire at the program’s nearby administrative offices.

The tutoring program is operated by Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus, or RISSE, whose West Lawrence Street headquarters were badly damaged in the fire.

We will keep you posted on the status of the tutoring program.

Then The Wife calls me with more disturbing details about the fire, which was only five blocks from our home:

Police are trying to determine if slashed tires found on two vans owned by Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus on West Lawrence Street are linked to an early morning fire that gutted office and instructional space used by the group, firefighters said…

RISSE, which helps immigrants and refugees adapted to life in the United States, is based in the nearby Emmaus United Methodist Church.

The only thing I can think to do, in order to fight off my deep disappointment over this probable arson is to contribute to RISSE. Read about the good work the organization has done:

The need in Albany is clear: Refugee families need long-term mentoring and education as they build new lives after experiences of trauma, dislocation, and relocation. About 400 refugees arrive annually in New York’s capital area. While government-sponsored organizations provide initial intervention, community-based support for the longer-term is critical.

This is not a rich organization. It is affiliated with a financially poor congregation, which nevertheless is doing great things. Please consider making contributions yourselves.