SC pas­tor in Pitts­burgh af­ter shoot­ing to ‘show sol­i­dar­ity’

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Ma­rina Pitof­sky

The Rev. Eric S.C. Man­ning, se­nior pas­tor at Mother Emanuel Church AME, was in Pitts­burgh on Fri­day vis­it­ing with mem­bers of the Tree of Life Sy­n­a­gogue, where 11 peo­ple were killed last week af­ter a gun­man opened fire on wor­shipers.

Mother Emanuel was the site of a 2015 shoot­ing when Dy­lann Roof, an avowed white su­prem­a­cist, en­tered the Charleston, South Carolina, church dur­ing a bi­ble study and killed nine black mem­bers.

Man­ning said he flew to Pitts­burgh on Thurs­day night from Char­lotte, North Carolina, to “show sol­i­dar­ity” with sy­n­a­gogue mem­bers. “A lot of times ad­vice shared with the con­gre­ga­tion of Mother Emanuel is the min­istry of pres­ence means so much, just if peo­ple can look up and see you, re­ceive a hug, re­ceive a hand­shake, re­ceive a hand­ker­chief that may be able to wipe away the tears that are falling down from their cheeks,” Man­ning told CNN’s “New Day” Fri­day. “That helps im­mensely and goes a long way.”

Man­ning said he would share words of wis­dom based on his own ex­pe­ri­ences, but he is also will­ing to silently sup­port the griev­ing com­mu­nity.

“We al­ways look for the right words to say, and some­times we just have to be silent and just stand there with them,” Man­ning said.

Man­ning said if he was to share ad­vice with the Tree of Life con­gre­ga­tion, it would be that time will help them move for­ward and tell the sto­ries of their neigh­bors and loved ones.

On Sun­day, Man­ning preached to his own con­gre­ga­tion that “words mat­ter,” en­cour­ag­ing con­gre­gants to treat one an­other with love.

He also used the ser­mon to crit­i­cize Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­sponse to the shoot­ing, the Hunt­ing­ton Post re­ported. He com­pared Trump’s call for armed guards at the sy­n­a­gogue with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s trip to Charleston, dur­ing which he sang “Amaz­ing Grace” with the con­gre­ga­tion af­ter the shoot­ing there.

“The tongue has the power of life and death,” Man­ning said Sun­day. “Some­times we don’t think that other peo­ple are pay­ing at­ten­tion, but they are in­deed pay­ing at­ten­tion. They hear ex­actly what you’re say­ing, and some­times peo­ple un­for­tu­nately ut­ter cer­tain thought­less phrases that in­stead of lift­ing up a cer­tain peo­ple, they be­gin to rally around a dog whis­tle.”

GENE J. PUSKAR/AP

Stones are placed on the Stars of David bear­ing the names of the shoot­ing vic­tims at Tree of Life Sy­n­a­gogue.

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