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Raleigh pastor remembers slain SC church leader as 'a big presence'

Posted June 25, 2015

— Before Rev. Clementa Pinckney led one of the south’s oldest churches, a Raleigh pastor remembers the slain church leader and South Carolina state senator as someone with a passion for justice.

“He was a big presence, deep voice,” said Rev. Pam Northrup, senior pastor at St. Phillip Lutheran Church, who attended seminary with Pinckney. “He came across as someone confident. That you really just…you sought to learn from him.”

Pinckney, 41, was one of nine people shot and killed June 17 during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where he was the senior pastor.

One of the shooting victims, Rev. Daniel Simmons, also attended Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested and charged with nine counts of murder the next day. He was apprehended during a traffic stop in Shelby.

“It just took my breath away,” Northrup said when hearing about the killings. “I literally gasped and had to leave the room. It takes your breath away that there can be so much badness.”

With tragedy, Northrup said many people ask where God is.

“We see God in the outpouring of love from people who gathered around that community of Emmanuel AME church,” she said. “We see God in the renewed emphasis of actually naming racism as a sin as a part of our brokenness in humanity and our willingness to talk about it and bring that to the forefront.”

Pinckney’s funeral will be held on Friday, 11 a.m., inside TD Arena at the College of Charleston. President Barack Obama, who knew Pinckney, will deliver the eulogy.

Pinckney’s funeral will be live streamed on WRAL.com.

Northrup, who is not attending the funeral, said Friday will be a day of reflection for her.

“I’ll be pondering his presence in my life and giving thanks for the bit of time I had with him,” she said. “And for his commitment to work for the good of all people. I’ll be thinking about how can I live into that in this little corner of my world as a witness to his love.”

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  • Paul Jones Jun 26, 2015
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    "We see God in the renewed emphasis of actually naming racism as a sin..."

    What? Racism isn't a sin. Even God had his chosen people.

    It's this kind of thing that lessens the credibility of Christians. Don't get angry as I point out what the Bible says, but it allows slavery and discourages women to be preachers.

    Funny how NC uses the Bible to condemn homosexuality, yet the same book has these other things that get thrown under a rug.