Monday will mark four years since an angry young man with murderous intent slipped into Emanuel and headed for 12 people settling in for Bible study. He sat with them for about an hour, not speaking, until they shut their eyes for closing prayer.
Then he pulled out a gun.
Nine people died that night, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator who was sitting beside the killer.
And the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., a retired minister who led the study most Wednesdays.
And Myra Thomson, who led it for the first time that night.
And Susie Jackson, at 87 the oldest among them to die.
And her nephew Tywanza Sanders, the youngest at 26.
And their cousin Ethel Lance, the church’s sexton, a mother of five.
And the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, mother of four.
And the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, mother of three.
And Cynthia Graham Hurd, mother of none but mentor to hundreds in her decades as a beloved librarian.
Nine families, the survivors and the church’s entire congregation found themselves thrust into a journey through what the Bible calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then they relived their losses anew with each mass shooting in America, including the Pulse nightclub massacre almost one year to the day after their loved ones died.
Read it all.