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The site of the 2015 hate crime that killed nine parishioners was in many ways a preview for an ugly era in race relations and politics.
BY BRITTANY GIBSON
CHARLESTON, S.C. – “With fear and trembling” is how the Rev. Eric S.C. Manning reacted in 2016 when he found out that he would be assigned to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, one year after nine people were killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof at their weekly prayer meeting.
It was the same fear and trembling that Manning felt when he first felt called to serve the church at 27 years old. But he never could have anticipated that calling would lead him to one of the oldest Black churches in the United States, and one that was so fatally targeted by racist intent.
“I have a tendency of always being honest—brutally honest I think at times—and I shared with the congregation that morning that I have no earthly idea how to lead a congregation through this,” Manning said in an interview with the Prospect about his first Sunday service. That morning he read from Psalm 23, in a sermon that reflected on the trust in God to lead. “I believe that it’s God that has sent me here and He will lead us all through this together,” Manning said that morning.