The Chapel staff and I join with so many others in mourning the deaths of the women and men killed this week at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C . We also condemn the reported hatred behind the murders.

Duke Chapel lectern

We recognize that while we all may be saddened, the news of a suspected white man murdering a group of black men and women gathered at church can be especially terrifying for African Americans and others whose places of worship have been visited with violence.

We pray for all those hurt by this wicked crime, especially the victims and their families, but we also pray for the young man suspected of carrying it out.

Like the prophet Jeremiah, we might say, “My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick,” and question, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” But God is able and we echo the musical words of the enslaved, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.” May God make this world whole and walk with the families and friends of our brothers and sisters in Charleston, and everywhere, who fall victim to the violence of this broken world.

Luke A. Powery
Dean of Duke Chapel