****This post is a guest post from Reverend Diane Brack Evans. She is the African American, female pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly African American church in Sylvania, Georgia. St. Paul was founded in 1871, and its founding members originally worshipped under a bush arbor until they could erect them a building. In these piece, Reverend Evans shares her feelings about losing a sense of comfort and safety in our houses of prayer and faith.***
Call it what you want. But I call it an act of terrorism – America – the horrific act that happened in Charleston, SC! This could have been the 144 year old Historic St Paul Missionary Baptist Church, where I am blessed to pastor in Sylvania, GA!!
On Sunday, June 7, 2015 on my first day back from sick leave to the pulpit, I get to the Church and two visitors (a male and female) were waiting to see the pastor of the Church. At the Church at 9:00 am were the faithful few at Sunday School already there discussing the Sunday School lesson. One of those members pointed me out the visitors.
After doing the summary for the Sunday School, I decided to meet with the two visitors; however, for some reason I decided against visiting with them in my Pastor’s Study and decided to talk to them in the sanctuary. The couple explained to me that they were hungry, new to the community – lived on Mock Street and needed money for a meal.
My instinct is always to give and I always follow that instinct. But on this particular day, I decided to not go back into my office to get cash from my purse, but to stay in the sanctuary. I went to one of my members to discuss the issue, and we gave them some money for a meal because for some reason I felt the need to have this couple leave immediately instead of suggesting they stay for worship. They did leave a little after receiving the donation. Call it instinct. I call it the Holy Spirit!!!
After the couple was gone, I immediately reminded the Church about two scenarios: 1) yes, we entertain ‘Angels’ unaware and 2) the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. For some reason I shared about Dr. King’s mother being murdered while at Church. Then I talked about us being so accepting of visitors and not having in place standard operating procedures even for the Church; we have got to “watch as well as pray.” (*Not all visitors are there for the wrong reasons, but God’s people have to have discernment.)
It is appalling that today the place that we hold sacred has become a place for those who need it the most a place to prey on it instead of seeing it as a “light.” A place to even do a crime as heinous as murdering nine church leaders at Bible Study!
So, when we return to Church Sunday there will be a feeling of “loss of innocence” for the Church and particularly the Black Church. Hence, I call it terrorism because it will not be business as usual; the tragedy that happened at Mother Emanuel reminds me of September 11. To some of us as members of the Community of Faith, we have lost that level of comfort and ease even in The House of Prayer!!