Events begin to commemorate two-year anniversary of Emanuel AME Church Shooting

Rev. Eric Manning. (Source: Live 5 News)
Rev. Eric Manning. (Source: Live 5 News)
Nine parishioners of Mother Emanuel AME Church were killed after a Bible study on June 17, 2015. (Source: Family/Facebook)
Nine parishioners of Mother Emanuel AME Church were killed after a Bible study on June 17, 2015. (Source: Family/Facebook)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - June 17 marks two years since the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in which nine parishioners were shot and killed after a Bible study.

Some 20 several commemorative events to remember the victims and also honor the three survivors of the massacre have been planned.

Rev. Eric Manning says two years later, people are still calling, visiting and sending letters of support for the church.

On Friday, a couple visiting from Greenville placed a fresh bouquet of flowers at the church's front gate.

"It is our most sincere prayer is that as people come they will be able to reflect upon the tragic event of June 17, 2015 but not stay in that period but begin to reflect how they have become better, how they have become stronger," Manning said.

Manning says the two-year anniversary events of the church shooting should be more than just a time of healing and reflection.

"We've been talking about racism, we've been talking about racial relations," he said. "We've been talking about all of these other dynamics and now it's time to begin to put our words into action."

The scheduled events include a unity walk, Bible study on forgiveness, church services, kid-friendly events, church tours and more. This year's theme is "The Light of Hope."

"My prayer is that as the congregation continues to write their next chapter that everyone understands where we are and that we're still trying to heal, we're sill trying to grow, we're sill trying to recover," Manning said.

The commemoration events will conclude with a concert featuring artists from across the community at the church.

"Singing praises unto God and thanking God for continuing to give us the strength to move forward," Manning said.

Manning said the church has an empowerment center next door where clinicians provide support to the families and first responders connected to this shooting throughout the year.

Nine people were killed, including State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Several of the victims were also ministers at the church, including Rev. Sharonda Singleton, retired pastor Dr. Daniel Simmons,  and Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor.  The other victims were Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, and Tywanza Sanders.

Polly Sheppard, Felicia Sanders and Sanders' 11-year-old granddaughter survived the shootings. Both Sanders and Sheppard spoke of forgiving the gunman, Dylann Roof, for the crime.

"Forgiveness is a relief," Sanders said in a February 2016 interview. "Dylann Roof doesn't care if I forgive him or not, forgiveness is for me it's not for him.

"I forgave him also," Sheppard says. "I believe God will forgive him too. I believe in repentance I believe God will forgive him too."

Roof was convicted in December of 33 federal charges connected to the shootings on June 17, 2015. In January, he was sentenced to death and is now in a maximum security prison in Indiana awaiting the death penalty.

The "Light of Hope" commemorative events planned are for June 15 through 30. They are listed in order by date.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 – Keynote Lecture, Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC),

Free and Open to the Public

Location: Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun Street

Time: 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Friday, June 16, 2017 – Youth Basketball Tournament

Location: The Charleston Charter School of Math & Science (1002 King Street)

Time: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM 

The Youth Basketball Tournament is an event designed to engage the community's youth in a time of remembrance and reflection on the lives and legacies of the Emanuel 9, while also celebrating the life of the youngest Emanuel 9 victim – Mr. Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders. Teams from across the community will gather for a day of healthy competition and community-building.  

Friday, June 16, 2017 – The Charleston Forum on Race

Location: The Charleston Music Hall (37 John Street)

Time: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Visit the website at for more information and to register for this event.

Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, 2017 – Tour of the Borough House

Location: 35 Calhoun Street

Time: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM 

The Borough House is an original home of the historic "Borough" community, one of the earliest middle class historic African-American communities. The house is a historic landmark, and contains many artifacts from the early 20th centuryTours will be hosted by heirs of the original owners. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017 – "The Hate Won't Win Unity Walk" with Speaker – Mr. Jeff Robinson of the ACLU

Location: King and Calhoun Streets (Start of March)

Time: 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

The "Hate Won't Win Unity Walk" honors the Emanuel 9 who tragically lost their lives on June 17, 2015, and the survivors who lived to tell the story. The walk will bring those of different races, religions, and backgrounds to contest hate and spread love across the world. Although hearts continue to be burdened in memory of loved ones, their legacies will be honored through the walk for peace and equity. The "Unity Walk" is a universal symbol of love to embrace our differences and to inspire conversations and changes in cultural relations around the world. The walk will conclude on the lawn of The Gaillard Center with a brief program and a motivational speech by Mr. Jeff Robinson, Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality – American Civil Liberties, to the families of the Emanuel 9, the survivors, and the community.  All are invited to join in the walk to declare and proclaim that "hate won't win". 

Saturday, June 17, 2017 – The Ecumenical Worship Service…In Remembrance of the Emanuel 9 and Recognition of the Survivors

Location: The Gaillard Center (95 Calhoun Street)

Time: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM 

The Ecumenical Worship Service represents a time of worship for the tri-county community, and will include participation by clergy and choirs from across the community. The keynote speaker will be the Reverend Dr. Joel Gregory, the Chair in Preaching and Evangelism at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. 

***Note: The worship service is open to the public, but a ticket (at no cost) is required for admission. Tickets can be accessed at

Saturday, June 17 & June 24, 2017 – A Moment of Silence…To Read

Location: John L. Dart Library (1067 King Street)

Time: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation will be providing free books for children in recognition and celebration of the life of Mrs. Cynthia Graham Hurd.

Saturday, June 17, 2017 – Acts of Amazing Grace 2017

The "Acts of Amazing Grace" is a worldwide virtual project designated to provide people with a targeted opportunity to respond with kindness as a result of the tragic events of June 17, 2015. That night affected lives around the world. People are seeking ways to respond to the hatred with love. Individuals and/or groups are requested to perform any acts of kindness in honor of those persons who lost their lives, the Emanuel 9 families and survivors, and the Mother Emanuel AME Church. Examples of these can be – organized or impromptu – i.e. buy a cup of coffee for a neighbor, organize a food drive, make a donation to a worthy cause, read to a child, etc. An opportunity will be provided to post descriptions of "Acts of Amazing Grace" on the webpage. In addition, an invitation is extended to those who have established organizations, embraced a social justice cause, or created an opportunity to recognize the Emanuel 9 to list their projects with the purpose on the webpage. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017 – Morning Worship Service

Location:  Emanuel AME Church (110 Calhoun Street)

Time: 9:30 AM

An invitation is extended to all to join the Mother Emanuel family for its regular Sunday morning worship service. 

Monday, June 19, 2017 – The Myra Thompson School Supply Distribution

Location: Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church (51 Bull Street)

Time: 12:00 Noon – 5:00 PM

The family of Mrs. Myra Thompson is sponsoring a school supply distribution for students in grades K-12. Myra Thompson was a committed educator who impacted countless students/young adults across the community. If you are interested in making a donation for the Myra Thompson School Supply Distribution, please call (843) 885-4747. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – "Calling All Colors: An Event for Youth 

Location:  Emanuel AME Church (110 Calhoun Street)

Time: 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

The event provides middle school students with opportunities for participation in workshops and forums on topics such as diversity, tolerance, respect and inclusion. The event will feature Ms. Alana Simmons (grand-daughter of Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr. and founder of the organization – "Hate Won't Win") and other community organizations. The event is free, but registration is required – Calling all Colors or

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – The Annual Senior Citizens Luncheon

Location: The Francis Marion Hotel

Time: 12:00 Noon – 2:00 PM

The luncheon reflects on and remembers the lives of Mrs. Susie Jackson and Mrs. Ethel Lance who were active members of the senior citizens ministry. The luncheon is being convened for the church's senior citizens, the Emanuel 9 families and survivors. 

*** Note: This event is by invitation only. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – Press Conference; Special Announcement by Rev. Eric S. C. Manning, Pastor of Emanuel AME Church 

Location: 113 Calhoun Street

Time: 12:30 PM 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – The Cynthia Graham Hurd Branch Library Anniversary

Location: Hurd/St. Andrews Regional Library (1735 N. Woodmere Drive)

Time: 2:00 PM

The Charleston County Public Library invites the community to attend the anniversary celebration of the Cynthia Graham Hurd Branch Library. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – Mother Emanuel Ecumenical Bible Study

Location:  Emanuel AME Church (110 Calhoun Street) 

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM 

The Bible Study will be co-led by Reverend Eric S.C. Manning and Reverend Anthony Thompson (the husband of Mrs. Myra Thompson, who led the Bible Study on June 17, 2015). An invitation is extended to the community to join the Mother Emanuel AME and Holy Trinity congregations for a time of Bible Study and fellowship. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – Tables of Ten 

Location: Various locations in the city of Charleston (The Park at the Battery, Hampton Park, Thomson Park, Alhambra Hall Lawn)

Time: 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM 

The "Tables of Ten", a citywide pop-up Bible Study event, will reconvene for its second year. At locations across the city, groups will engage in a special Bible Study in remembrance and reflection of the Emanuel 9 and the June 17, 2015, Bible Study at Mother Emanuel AME Church. Groups will consist of Life Groups, pastors, teachers, community members, etc. For more information regarding this event visit

Saturday, June 24, 2017 – The Samaritan's Feet Project

Location: Charleston Progressive Academy (382 Meeting Street)

Time: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

In partnership with the Samaritan's Feet International Organization, Mother Emanuel will be hosting a shoe distribution – new tennis shoes – for children/youth in grades K-12. Mother Emanuel will be joined with partners from the Samaritan's Feet Project, Coca-Cola, and others to provide this ministry for the community.

Sunday, June 25, 2017 – The Commemoration Finale: "Morning Grace" Concert

Location:  Emanuel AME Church (110 Calhoun Street)

Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The Commemoration Finale, Morning Grace, will feature artists from across the community to include Marjory Wentworth – poet laureate of South Carolina, Charlton Singleton, Ann Caldwell, the Seacoast Church Choir and Band, Lowcountry Voices, Mario Desaussure, and many more. The event is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required.  Visit  to get a ticket.

June 1-30, 2017 – Exhibit: The Life and Legacy of Mrs. Cynthia Graham Hurd

Location: Charleston County Public Library (68 Calhoun Street)

Hours:  Mon-Thu 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM; Fri-Sat 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM & Sun 2:00 PM to 5 PM

The Charleston County Library is hosting an exhibit with photos and other artifacts that recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Mrs. Cynthia Graham Hurd. 

June 17 – 30, 2017 – Quilt and Memorabilia Exhibit

Location: The Arch Building (85 Calhoun Street)

Times: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Saturday; 12 Noon to 5 PM, Sunday

Following June 17, 2015, the church received thousands of memorabilia and hundreds of quilts from around the world. The exhibit will include a sampling of the many items that were gifted to Mother Emanuel. 

June 19 – 26, 2017 – Church Tours

Location:  Emanuel AME Church (110 Calhoun Street)

Hours for Tours: 10:00 AM – 12 Noon Monday to Saturday; 

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Sunday 

The church will open the doors for individual tours during the hours cited. Group tours are required to be scheduled through the church's office at 843-722-2561. 

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.