Clementa Carlos Pinckney (1973-2015)—a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate and the senior pastor of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. [African Methodist Episcopal] Church—was martyred last night, along with eight other church members, while leading a Bible study and prayer meeting within his church in Charleston, S.C.
Pinckney (age 41) is survived by his wife, Jennifer (whom he married in 1999), and their two children, Eliana and Malana.
At the age of 23, he was the youngest African-American in South Carolina history to be elected to the legislature. He began preaching when he was 13 years old and was first appointed to preach at the age of 18.
After earning a degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration, he enrolled in Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (ELCA) in Columbia, S.C., graduating with an MDiv in 2008.
In 2010 he was named pastor of Mother Emanuel AME. He was a fourth-generation pastor.
In the video below—filmed in 2013 within the church where he would later be murdered—Rev. Pinckney gives a short history of his historic church:
NewsOne has pulled together several things you should know about the history of this historical church:
1) In 1816 Black members of Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal Church withdrew over disputed burial grounds and under the leadership of Morris Brown, formed a circuit of 3 churches of people of color affiliated with the newly established African Methodist Episcopal Church. Emanuel’s congregation grew out of the Hampstead Church, located at Reid and Hanover Streets.
2) In 1822 the church was investigated for its involvement with a planned slave revolt. Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s founders, had organized plans for a major slave uprising in Charleston. The plot was foiled by an informant, and Vesey was hanged, along with 36 enslaved people.
4) Parishioners rebuilt the church after the fire and worshipped there until 1834, when South Carolina outlawed all-Black churches.
5) The congregation had to continue worshipping underground until 1865, when the church formally reorganized. It was then that the name “Emanuel” ( meaning “God is with us”) was adopted.
6) Richard Harvey Cain, who served South Carolina as a Republican representative to Congress from 1873-1875 and 1877-1879, had led Emanuel after the Civil War. During his tenure the church was “one of the strongest political organizations in the state.”
7) Today Emanuel A.M.E. is the oldest AME church in the South.
8) It houses the oldest Black congregation south of Baltimore.
9) The current church building is a Gothic Revival-style structure built in 1891.
Here is a picture from 1963 of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other associates within Mother Emanuel:
The murderer—identified by police as 21-year-old Dylann Roof—has not been apprehended at time of writing. Let us pray for both the justice of God upon his enemies and for his healing comfort to be upon his people.