By Bob Allen
The first order of business for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship June 18 was prayer for victims in Wednesday’s deadly shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Prior to a Thursday morning business session of the 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas, South Carolina CBF Coordinator Jay Kieve asked those in attendance to gather in prayer for Pastor Clementa Pinckney and eight others shot dead at a Wednesday night Bible study at the predominantly African-American church.
“Pray for the healing of racial divisions and the end of racial violence,” Kieve suggested.
CBF Moderator Kasey Jones, senior pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., closed the prayer with a plea: “Deliver us, your people, from all those things that divide and cause the cancer of violence that’s plaguing us for far too long and too often.”
Jones voiced hope that something redemptive can come from the tragedy. “We ask that you will redeem this situation, that it will inspire a new movement of love, collaboration and co-partnership in the things and the ways of God.”
She also prayed for the perpetrator. “We ask that you will touch, that you will move, that you will transform his life,” Jones said.
About the time of her prayer, media reported that a suspect had been taken into custody in North Carolina.
According to CNN, Dylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, S.C., allegedly attended the Wednesday night church service for about an hour before standing up and announcing that he was there “to shoot black people.”
Six females and three males were killed. Three people survived, including a woman who was told: “I’m not going to kill you. I’m going to spare you, so you can tell them what happened.”
Police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
At the CBF General Assembly, Kieve said Christians “bear witness to a different story” than the one coming out of South Carolina. “We bear witness to … the story that love is stronger than hate, the truth that Jesus makes us sisters and brothers no matter the color of our skin.”
“We are praying, Lord, for the violence to end,” Jones said in her prayer, “and we’re asking, Lord, to use us as you see fit so that your peace will become real in the lives of those who need it.”