Garden City United Methodist Church in Monroeville hosted an ecumenical service of Comfort, Repentance, and Healing in memory of those killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. About 150 people attended the evening service Wednesday, June 24.
The Rev. Scott Gallagher, pastor of Garden City UMC, attended Wesley Theological Seminary with the Rev. Clementa Pickney, the pastor of the Charleston congregation, who was shot along with eight others during a Wednesday evening Bible study at the historic Charleston church.
“Clem was an amazing man who achieved more in his 41 years than many do in a lifetime,” Gallagher said. “He had a strong, passionate spirit, filled with grace and compassion. His faith had such depth and genuineness that he was able to inspire all those around him. I remember his laughter, the way in which it filled the dining hall, reflected the joy of his spirit.”
Many of the media outlets show Clem smiling. “That is the man my colleagues from Wesley Theological Seminary and I remember,” he added. “It is so much more than a smile--it is a reflection of the Spirit of God that dwelt so richly within Clem.”
Gallagher said the world suffered a loss last Wednesday. Not only the loss of Clem, but the eight other faithful members of the Wednesday night Bible Study. Each one present was there to not only read the word of God, but to live it out. These persons from all walks of life embraced Dylann Roof (the accused killer) into their fellowship that evening. Even Dylann stated, ‘they were so nice to me.’
“The seeds of forgiveness began that night when Dylann walked into Emanuel,” Gallagher explains. “ I cannot help but think that the kindness shared with him that evening; the words shared during the hour he sat inside the church; and the forgiveness extended to him at his arraignment are the continuation of Clem's work as a servant of God.
“We, as brothers and sisters in faith, need to find the comfort and solace that is only found in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We need to examine our lives and repent of our sins, and begin to work toward healing.
Besides Gallagher, those participating in the service included the Rev. Buena Smith Dudley, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Monroeville, and Rev. William B. Meekins, Jr., assistant to United Methodist Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton.