God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.

Revelation 21: 4


To Bishop John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop,

Bishop Julius McAllister, President of the Bishops’ Council

Bishop Richard F. Norris, Presiding Prelate of the Seventh Episcopal District

Members of the AME Church, Charleston Community, and Families

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


I followed with horror the events that took place yesterday evening at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, USA. A pastor and members of the congregation were targeted with acts of violence, which seem to have been premeditated and motivated by racial hatred, while they gathered in prayer and the study of God’s word. We have now learned that among the nine lives lost was that of the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also served as a state elected official. We have been moved by the stories of his witness and service both as a pastor and public servant in his faithful response to God’s calling.

The World Council of Churches is a global fellowship of churches that is enriched by the diversity of gifts found in its membership. WCC has been blessed by the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s long and rich history of ministry and witness for justice rooted in the recognition that all are created in the image of God. Emanuel Church is a powerful symbol of this legacy, making this attack all the more painful and heinous.

We grieve deeply that such an act of hatred and violence occurred in a sacred space and to those in active observance of their faith. We offer our condolences to the families, the congregation, and community, our prayers for healing to the wounded and traumatized, and solidarity and accompaniment to our sisters and brothers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. We call for the authorities to ensure criminal accountability for the young man who carried out this unconscionable act.

The central Christian message remains before us even now; ultimately, death and evil do not and will not triumph.

God of life, lead us to justice and peace.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches