Clementa Pinckney

A Nov. 22, 2010 photo shows the Rev. Clementa Pinckney at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Pinckney, a Ridgeland Democrat and pastor at Mother Emanuel AME Church, died Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in the mass shooting at the church. (Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier via AP)

(Updated 5/19/2015) Reverberations are being felt across the country as more becomes known about the brutal slaying of The Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney and 8 members of his Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Pinckney, an influential figure well-known in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area, was killed on Thursday night. A suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, was taken into custody after being captured in North Carolina on Thursday.

President Obama issued a brief statement noting the tragedy of having to make statements about these kind of mass shootings repeatedly over the course of his presidency and that he and First Lady Michelle Obama knew the pastor personally, who was also a State Senator.

“At some point we will have to come to terms with the fact that these crimes don’t happen in other advanced countries, especially at this frequency,” he said.

In addition, Representative G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued a statement. “I’m deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Emanuel AME has long stood as a place of refuge in times of distress and comfort in times of sorrow.  It is where congregants joined together to worship, celebrate and find peace.  It is difficult to comprehend that a house of worship known for joy and tolerance could become a scene of hate and tragedy.

My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences are with the families of the nine parishioners who lost their lives to cowardly and despicable violence.  Last night’s shooting is inexcusable, senseless and will not be tolerated in our country.  I ask that we come together in prayer for the victims’ families and the entire Charleston community, and hope that the swift pursuit of justice will provide some comfort in this time of unimaginable grief.”

In the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area pastors of AME churches were universal in their expressions of sadness over the death of the pastor and his parishioners.

Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor, Empowerment Temple, Baltimore

“We grew up in the national church conventions together. The Reverend was very outspoken. He was one of those who championed for the removal of the Confederate Flag from the State House. He spoke on the floor of the legislature against violence and mentioned Freddie Gray. He promised to be a rising member of the church in the State of South Carolina both physically and in the church.

There are so many unanswered questions. I think nationally there will be a day of mourning. He gave his life both physically and spiritually.”

AME Potomac District Presiding Elder Ronald E. Braxton

How tragic it is that in the postmodern era racism still plaques our country. History records an ugly time in the existence of African American people: slavery, Jim Crowism and segregation. Trying to digest this evil act, which transpired in one of African Methodism’s most notable churches, and to a brother-pastor and a dear friend, is nearly impossible.

I cannot seem to remove myself from watching the coverage of the massacre and related stories about evil and hatred that still exists today, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation which officially ended slavery. It seems as if little has changed.

Rev. Ann Lightner Fuller, pastor, Mt. Calvary AME, Towson, M.D.

I did not know him personally but I’ve been to his church. When I saw his face on television, I said ‘Oh, my God,” I know that man. It’s a tragic loss to the community. I think of how those hearts of his parishioners must be so broken right now. It’s like a family member being taken from us. We had an impromptu prayer meeting today. We prayed for the pastor and his family and for the members of the church whose lives were taken from them. We prayed for the young man who committed this heinous act. He must have a evil spirit in him to pull a trigger nine times. African-American churches always have their arms wide open because that’s the kind of churches they are. If they were in a prayer meeting, I can promise you they welcomed him. We have to live every day as if it was our last. Who expects to go to prayer meeting and be gunned down?”

Rev. William A. Gray, pastor, St. Stephens AME Church, Essex, M.D.

“I’m saddened. It’s sad when it happens at any church. I’m saddened that we’re going away praying in these prayer circles. What is this thing with our prayers? Why are we continuing to talk when we’re not addressing what’s going on with our young people? Most of the people creating these issues, whether it’s the looting or the killing, have no spiritual faith.

You turn around and another in a few weeks we’re going to see another incident like this. What can we do? We need to bring ethics back. But it won’t be done in the church because most young people don’t go to church.”

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Weaver, pastor, Greater Mt. Nebo AME Church in Bowie, Md.

“To suffice to say that I was shocked and certainly very dismayed at what took place in Charleston, S.C. It is a painful reminder that we are in the midst of a very violent prone culture, not only in this country but in other parts of the world as well. But those of us within the faith community, and more specifically, believers in Jesus Christ must redouble our efforts to exemplify a life for which HE would be pleased, to bring about reconciliation and a spirit of unity amongst all of us regardless of race, nationality, creed or ethnicity.”

William H Lamar IV, Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, D.C.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragedy that befell our sister church, Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Late Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Mother Emmanuel and a South Carolina state senator, was among the fallen.  He was a highly esteemed colleague in ministry.  This evil act cannot be separated from the legacy of conquest, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and violence that mars the history of the United States of America.  The perpetrator used “Birth of a Nation” style rhetoric as his rationale for this dastardly deed.  This is not an anomalous event.  This is America.”