Charleston, SC – City of Grace

“Grace is power, not just pardon.”

John Piper



In June of 2015, Emanuel AME Church and the city of Charleston lost 9 innocent people who had opened their church and their hearts to a stranger. Much has been said about the perpetrator of the crime, but in my opinion the real story is the grace with which the members of the church and the people of our city reacted to this horrific act.



“Grace is a gift of the humble to the humiliated.”

Charles R. Swindoll

Rather than react with violence, or demand an eye for an eye, the members of the church spoke about forgiveness. They spoke about their love of God, and the strength that they as a community would draw from that love.  They honored their loved ones with generous gifts in their names to those in need. They refused to close their doors to increase their safety.  Rather than turn their backs on their God they prayed harder and believed just as fervently.  In similar circumstances, could you have done the same?



“Humor and paradox are often the only ways to respond to life’s sorrow with grace.”

Matthew Fox

The people of our genteel city responded in kind. Rather than protest marches they held prayer vigils. Rather than divide us along racial lines the tragedy united us.  Outside agitators left empty-handed, and the president of the United States led the congregation in a spontaneous performance of Amazing Grace.

Here in Charleston we have been inundated with news of the resulting trial and conviction of the perpetrator.  I will be happy to see the story end and the lives of the victims’ families return as much as possible to normal.  Rest assured, there is work still to be done in our fair city to further the cause of equality – but nothing we can do will surpass the spirit and grace of Emanuel AME.


84 thoughts on “Charleston, SC – City of Grace

  1. Pingback: Charleston: A city beautiful inside AND out – David C. Ahnen

  2. Tina, Ada and Georgia go to school across the street from Mother Emanuel. Whenever I am at their school and look over, I never fail to get a feeling of grace, spirit and hope emanating from the church. Thank you for this post.

  3. Sorry to be so late to this beautiful, moving post of yours Tina. The amazing grace of your community together with the President’s Amazing Grace are sources of great hope in these difficult times. Thank you also for the grace with which you have inspired once again.

  4. How about submitting this to the P and C . Surely they would do something with your amazing photos, thoughts and your followers comments. The best.

  5. Amazing Grace how sweet it is that saved a wretch like me….oh T… what a beautiful priceless post…. we are all recipients of God’s Grace repeatedly….. this situation lived GRACE out to the fullest… as for pics…. loved that steeple rising higher than high.. very symbolic…

  6. Yes, Tina, sometimes the news inundates us with the same tragic story so many times that all we wish is for it to end.
    Your photographs are stunning. You’ve captured the church with its historic architecture and beauty inside and out.
    The pain these kind hearted people have to live with is difficult to imagine. Your lovely city is blessed to have residents
    that love their town more than their desire to send a horrific message. May they all find peace in the walls that gayjered them
    together in the first place. Thank you for writing and photographing.
    Isadora 😎

  7. Beautiful photos and thoughts.
    Forgiveness is always the most difficult part, yet the difficulties a person may have with it says you’re human. For a person of faith, it is a requirement – giving pardon says not only has the offense been forgiven, the offense is no longer remembered. It’s antithetical to the saying about forgiving and forgetting “I can forgive, but cannot forget.” But, if you’re a parent, you practice full forgiveness with your children because you love them lots. This concludes my wisdom for the day. 🙂

  8. Such an uplifting tale in Charleston, Tina. No fight and certainly no fighting fire with fire, but love more. I think that is a great approach to help us all see past difference an understand what has happened, and how the world is in a broader sense. I really like the Matthew Fox quote. Humour can make us see the lighter side of things and even help us see the similarities within ourselves. Nothing like a good laugh and a good bonding session. Take care, Tina 🙂

  9. Simply beautiful Tina. It is so hard to understand these tragedies but what makes them easier to bear is when people come together and help one another. We need so much more love in the world. 😌

  10. Pingback: Graceful: Reflection Rijnstraat 8 | What's (in) the picture?

  11. The parishioners of Emanuel AME not only drew on their parish and their faith, they gave an insight into the city that we all hold in deep regard. An incrediable and lasting example of faith in God and the power of forgiveness. I was stunned but not surprised at how they handled the tragedy that was dealt to them. If nothing else their example should be a gold standard for all of us.

  12. Beautiful post Tina. Living in Charleston too, it was at first disbelief that this horrific act happened in our city. I am so proud of the way all Charlestonians reached out to help and comfort each other. I hope that Charleston’s grace will be an example to all.

  13. What a wonderful tribute to Charleston.It is always such a challenge to make any sense out of suffering. You have helped with your beautiful work, Thanks Tina

Please Tell Me What You Think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: