President Walter Responds to the Charleston Tragedy

CHICAGO, IL (June 19, 2015) — Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, responds to the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, with an open letter to AME leadership.

An Open Letter to the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Senior Bishop Rev. Dr. John R. Bryant
General Secretary Rev. Dr. Jeffery Cooper
500 8th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203

June 19, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

! shooting photoWith heavy hearts for your loss and a heavy burden for the brokenness of our land we stand with you in the tragedy befalling your congregation, “Mother Emanuel” AME Church of Charleston, South Carolina.

We give thanks for the fruitful lives and faithful witness of Rev. Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and Myra Thompson.

As people of faith, we sit in the pain with the hope that God will take this brokenness and weave redemptive purposes through it. We stand with you to that end.

That the perpetrator espoused racial hatred reminds us that the “dividing walls of hostility” that Christ came to destroy stubbornly need breaking down still. We stand with you in in the journey toward greater racial righteousness.

They died studying about and praying to God whom they loved, in a place dedicated to God’s glory, through the ministry of a congregation committed to serving all of God’s children. We stand with you in wanting to raise up even more disciples who will study about and pray to God whom they love, in places dedicated to God’s glory, through the ministries of congregations committed to serving all of God’s children.

This tragedy reminds us of just how much we need people of hope, not hate. For more than 200 years the AME has been a beacon of hope, founded in godly aspiration in response to hate. May the AME continue to be for us and other denominations a leader in what it means to have the resolve of a prophet and the heart of a shepherd.

In Christ,

Gary Walter
The Evangelical Covenant Church




  • President Gary, thank you for your open letter to the AME Charleston church on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church body. Speaking for our denomination in light of what’s occurred and from a place of majority culture is huge. I value your leadership and look to our Lord who is our refuge. May He bring peace and comfort to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Heartfelt thanks, Gary, for your profound and prophetic letter to the leaders of the AME Church! You spoke for the whole Church in the light of the terrible tragedy in Charleston and the need to continue the work of breaking down the walls of evil in our society that divide us as a people all created in the Image of God!

  • Pres Gary – Thank you for speaking for the church and lamenting and naming the evil that has happened! I so value your voice and intentionality to lead us in joining with brothers and sisters grieving right now. You may know there are some other pastoral ECC voices writing and responding to this national conversation in the hopes of serving the church. I am pasting a few article links here in case they haven’t been seen and may also serve the wider body. Gratefully – Liz
    Revs. Gilliard, Swanson, Humphreys, Green and Kohng:

    Rev.Dr. Soong-Chan Rah:

    Blog I wrote:

  • Gary, your thoughtful response is another example of why I’m so grateful that God has led me to the fellowship of the Evangelical Covenant Church. It is why I am so happy to introduce my friends to the ECC. Your words expressed my heart too. Thank you.

  • Thank you President Walter. I so appreciate your words of comfort spoken to our brothers and sisters of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in general and Mother Emmanuel Church in particular. May our Lord help us all as we strive to be people of God and people of peace.

  • Beautiful and heartfelt statement, Gary, in the face of this horrendous tragedy. You spoke eloquently for us all. Profuse thanks.

  • Thank you Gary for your heart-felt message of comfort to the AME Charleston Church members and to all of us. We must all work together to bring down those barriers of hatred and intolerance.

  • Thank you, Gary, for speaking so eloquently on behalf of all of us in the Evangelical Covenant Church family. May we all have “the resolve of a prophet and the heart of a shepherd” of which you wrote.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *