Carol Hallman: Hate won’t win
I don’t know what it is like to stand before a congregation in fear that the building you are in might be firebombed or a gunman might enter and start shooting.
I do not know that fear of inviting the stranger into our group and worrying that they might be there for nefarious purposes.
If Dylann Roof had shown up at our church we would have welcomed him just as “Mother” Emmanuel AME Church did in Charleston. Chances are Roof wouldn’t have chosen our church.
Churches are supposed to be sacred spaces, holy and welcoming, a place where all are welcome and not touched by the violence of the world. But that is not true, is it, especially in the black churches. They have experienced fire bombings, threats and shootings since their beginnings here in the US. Why violence against these churches?
I think that churches are places of hope, places that offer something you can’t get anywhere else. Maybe people who commit violence in our churches think that they will destroy our hope. But they can’t. We are a people built on hope and promise. We are built on the love of our God who sent Jesus to live and dwell among us. Jesus willingly gave his own life, in order that we might live fully and always have hope. As Chris Singleton, son of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, one of the victims, said at a vigil, “Love is stronger than hate,” Singleton continued, “So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.” Other victims’ family members spoke at the bail hearing
“I forgive you,” Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance, said to Roof. “I will never talk to her ever again, never be able to hold her again. I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but I forgive you.
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons, also spoke to the suspect. “Hate won’t win,” she said. “My grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate. Everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies live in love.”
This is the God I worship, the God I lift my hands to praise and the hope that lives on, because in the end love always wins.
Carol Hallman is resident pastor at First UCC, 207 West Horah St.