By Gary Huffenberger
WILMINGTON — About 100 people from at least seven local churches showed up Sunday at the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church to come together in caring and fellowship after last week’s massacre at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in South Carolina.
Organized by the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association (WAMA), the guests outnumbered the home congregation at the small church on North Lincoln Street in Wilmington.
The surprise visit occurred 12:15 p.m. Sunday, when the visitors were welcomed into the church and shared half an hour of “worshiping and singing and testifying and praying together,” said Wilmington United Methodist Pastor Dean Feldmeyer, WAMA president.
The Rev. Victor L. Davis, pastor of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church, said he was at the podium Sunday when he began to hear soft singing. The music became louder and clearer, he said, and Davis asked someone to “open those doors so we can see what’s going on.”
The vestibule, said the pastor, was “full of folks I didn’t know.”
Davis saw that one man was wearing a clergy collar and the group was invited in.
A stream of people kept coming into the sanctuary, Davis said, “continuing to sing, in a very prayerful manner.”
Davis said, “It really moved me to tears. It was just overwhelming.”
The Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church pastor said, “I could not help but notice they were white congregants.”
He continued, “It reinforced my love for Christendom and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Davis added, “One of the most segregated times in America is Sunday morning. It did not happen this Sunday morning.”
At one point, the song “We Shall Overcome” was sung and hands were joined together, he said.
Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church member Judy Nevels said Monday, “That was a Sunday that I will remember. It touched me in so many ways, to see a coming together of Christians of all faiths.”
The back of the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church bulletin on Sunday had photographs of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church parishioners who were fatally shot during Bible study last Wednesday at the historically black church. All nine victims were black and the confessed gunman is white and reportedly told investigators he wanted to start a race war.
The turn-out for solidarity at the A.M.E. Church in Wilmington “wasn’t complicated at all,” Feldmeyer said Monday. It involved an “outpouring of faith and love together; we couldn’t have asked for it to go any better.”
There were “lots of hugs and tears” at the gathering, said Feldmeyer. The hymn “Amazing Grace” was sung.
The visiting faithful were there, he said, to convey to the local A.M.E. Church members “we love them and share their grief, and to be a source of support for them.”
The United Methodist pastor added the experience of everyone grieving together helps a person see reconciliation as a blessing.
A statement last Thursday from an A.M.E. seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio, which is in neighboring Greene County, said the seminary has a current student who is a member of Emanuel A.M.E. Church. Student Michelle Frayer “lost her pastor, friends, and fellow members on last evening,” wrote Dr. Michael J. Brown, interim president, Payne Theological Seminary.
Brown also stated, “We reside in the knowledge that no life is ever lost to God. We abide in the hope that God continues to work for the final redemption of creation. And hold firmly to the belief that ‘earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal’.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.