By: Stephen Ray
July 28, 2015
... God creates a diverse world in which inclusion is of value
At particular historical moments events overwhelm our usual use of words and categories. Such was the martyrdom of the Saints at Mother Emmanuel on June 19th, 2015. I use this word, martyrdom, in what may seem to some an anachronistic way but, I would argue a usage wholly consonant with reflecting on issues of diversity in the Church, the Academy and theological education. Martyrdom recall is death at the hands of belief. We are most familiar with it as a subjective matter, that is, as a choice that someone makes to offer their own life for what they believe. There is an objective side to the matter. That is when someone or some entity kills another both for what the killer believes and what the killer takes to be the belief of the victim of their actions.
So, the Christian martyrs of the Early Church were willing to die for their faith at the hands of centurions who were willing to kill for their own. It is just this second dimension that we can overlook in the deaths of nine good people who believed that the church was a place where “whosoever shall come” ought to be welcomed. This was in accord with a long heritage of Mother Emmanuel AME enfleshing their belief that God creates a diverse world in which inclusion is of value. This was their belief; the belief for which they died. Their murderer had other beliefs about how diversity and inclusion. His, of a cloth with a system of belief woven throughout the history of this nation, the church, and the intellectual artiface of the academy is simply put, that there are sacred and inviolable spaces of white life worth killing for.
I think the question for us, the living, is which of these beliefs is worth living for?
Photo Credit: The All-Nite Images