An emotional Reverend Timothy Tyler of Shorter Community AME church in Denver was a friend of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the three men and six women who were gunned down after a Wednesday night Bible study in their Emmanuel AME church in Charleston. 24 hours after that horrific, racist, evil attack, Reverend Tyler led more than a thousand people in an hours long tribute and prayer meeting to talk to God and wait to hear a word from Him, even though he noted how hard it was for him and us all to do in our grief. He greeted everyone, even me and my mother, as we sat and stood next to Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians of every faith tradition by saying, “we’re here because we need you. And you need us.”
Surrounded by dozens of faith leaders, Reverend Tyler kneeled as those men and women of faith laid hands on his head and prayed for him in his pain. Their words for healing and strength and courage resonated for all of us in this sanctuary, no matter what our belief.
As images of each victim were shown on a screen, and a choir sang and faith leaders and policy makers spoke, Reverend Tyler’s call came true for me.
When we were all asked to hold the hand of our neighbor during one of the final prayers I couldn’t help but hear from God, in the form of blessing and tears. Holy ground had been desecrated in Charleston, the lives of nine people who were doing what they loved and were not afraid had come to a brutal end, and in this room the power of that event brought together folks who want Shorter Community AME church to know, “we stand with you.”
I have never been in the presence of so many faiths together in one room speaking with one voice. As the thunder stopped outside the night ended with candles, lit from candles which symbolized each victim, to light the way home for the nine souls who were released to heaven.
And for a moment, heaven on earth.