The Rev. Herman R. Yoos, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) South Carolina Synod, released a pastoral message June 18 in response to the shooting deaths that occurred at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
“There are no words that adequately express the shock, grief, outrage and injustice of the violent act resulting in the deaths of nine people. Earlier today, I sent a letter to all the congregations and pastors of the South Carolina Synod expressing our solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters in Christ who were tragically gunned down while attending Bible Study at Emanuel AME Church in a racially motivated act of violence,” said Yoos. The accused gunman was a member of a Lutheran congregation in Columbia. “The pastor of this congregation has been providing much needed pastoral care to the family of the accused. Together they are struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible,” said Yoos.
He continued, “No doubt, we will learn more about this deeply troubled young man in the days to come. No matter what we learn, it will not diminish nor explain the tragedy of this racially motivated act of violence. Neither will it explain the sin of racism that infects our society.” Yoos joins with the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, in calling for “a day of self-‐reflection, mourning and prayer” along with a recommitment to “intentional listening, open dialogue and renewed efforts as we all work together to eliminate racial injustice.”