One Charleston: Where Do We Go From Here? by William Dudley Gregorie

William Dudley Gregorie

One Charleston: Where Do We Go From Here?
“Mother” Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is my church. It is where I was christened as a child, and it is where I learned many of the values I take with me daily on this life’s journey.Those principles of perseverance, kindness to others, respect, Godliness, and leadership were all kindled and nurtured within the hallowed walls of her sanctuary. It is there that I learned the resolve that has allowed us all to deal with the tragic events of June 17, 2015, with grace, love, and forgiveness.

It is with this spirit of resolve and leadership, that I feel compelled to write this to you.

We will eventually heal, but we will never be the same.

I am a trustee at Emanuel. It is a role that I cherish and one that I feel that I must work at daily to fulfill my appointed duties. As a trustee and life-long member of Mother Emanuel, I want to thank you for the kindness and love you have shown to our congregation. Everyone that offered a kind word or simple, heartfelt gesture, please know it did not go unnoticed, and it was right on time.

Mother Emmanuel has a history of overcoming tremendous adversity, and for over 200 years she has stood steadfast, her steeple serving as a beacon for those in need. She will once again stay true to her congregation and survive this terrible ordeal.

But she will never be the same. From the strength of her members, we can all learn some very important lessons.

We must come together, stay together and work together to show the world that we will once again prove that Charleston will be the standard-bearer as a city.

We are in our collective time of prayer that should never end. But as we pray and as we think, we must develop our plan. As this plan takes shape, we will develop policies to “protect our people.” Policies that will make sure this “City Works For Everyone.” Policies that will mean that we will stay forever united and focused on doing what is best for everyone, on every block, in every neighborhood, in every zip code of our city.

This is what the events of June 17 have shown us. That we can do all of these things. A people united as “One Charleston” is the most formidable force this state and country has seen. Out of tragedy we have found a light and a way. We must dedicate ourselves to ensuring this spirit of “One Charleston” remains intact and resolute.

So that the lives of the Emanuel Nine were not lost in vain, we must all see to it that this remains the reality for generations to come.

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