Health and Human Rights in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: A Modern-Day Civil Rights Struggle

As Orthodox Christians, we are charged with viewing people of all races equally, both under God as well as societally. This stems not from political opinion, but rather our shared view that we are all created in His image. This year, as we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are reminded of his tremendous work towards racial equality and the sacrifices he made for civil rights. When evaluating the impact he has had on the world, we must not become complacent. As Archbishop... Read More

Archbishop Condemns S.C. Church Shooting, Attends Pastor’s Funeral

Archbishop Demetrios joins bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other dignitaries on the state at TD Arena following President Obama’s eulogy. The program lasted for several hours and was attended by a capacity audience in the thousands. The scene was captured on a production computer of the Orthodox Observer from a telecast by Yahoo TV.
© Yahoo

CHARLESTON, S.C. – In the aftermath of the killing of nine persons by a gunman at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) on June 17, Archbishop Demetrios traveled to Charleston on Jun. 25 to attend the funeral of state Sen. Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was among the victims.

The funeral service took place in TD Arena at the College of Charleston. President Obama delivered the eulogy.

Because of the change in his schedule, the Archbishop was unable to attend the Pan-Macedonian Association’ s annual convention opening ceremony in Newton, Mass.

Archbishop Demetrios, very saddened by the news of the shooting of nine persons at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., on June 17, expressed on behalf of the Archdiocese, “deep sorrow, sympathy and prayers for the victims, their families and their community.”

Issues Condolence Statement

On June 19, Archbishop Demetrios issued a statement expressing his sadness and “deep sorrow, sympathy and prayers for the victims, their families and their community.”

His Eminence further stated, “I am deeply saddened and distraught by the news of this heinous crime,” he stated, “which took place in a church, in a sacred place of worship, during a time of Bible study. We, the Greek Orthodox Church in America, mourn the loss of innocent lives and stand in solidarity with the people of the community in Charleston. We pray fervently to God for the repose of the souls of the victims and for strength, comfort and consolation to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Furthermore, we firmly reiterate the unyielding commitment of the Orthodox Church to all efforts for the elimination of the causes of similar inhuman actions.”

Attends service

The Archbishop took part in a full-day of activities held June 26 at TD Arena, which was filled to capacity by thousands. His Eminence was the only religious leader and hierarch of any other Christian denomination to attend. About 30 bishops and lay leaders of the AME Church were present.

Also attending were Vice President and Mrs. Joe Biden, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, Hillary Clinton and other U.S. and state government officials.

President Barack Obama arrived later in the program to deliver the eulogy and led in the singing of the Protestant hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Following the event, which began about 10 a.m. and lasted until about 3 p.m., the Archbishop joined other dignitaries and AME clergy to visit the scene of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church, including the basement where the Bible study was taking place at the time of the shootings.

Archbishop Demetrios completed the day with an unscheduled visit to Charleston’s Greek Orthodox church, Holy Trinity, where a wedding rehearsal was under way. After blessing the future bride and groom, he departed for New York.

The AME Church is one of the oldest denominations in the United States.

It has its roots in the Free African Society established by free blacks in Philadelphia in 1787 as a result of racial discrimination experienced in mainstream congregations.

It officially began in 1816 and major congregations were established in major cities in the north from Boston to Cincinnati and reached the West Coast by the 1850s.

Currently, the AME Church has about 7.5 million members in 12,000 congregations. South Carolina alone has about 600 congregations.

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