Survivor and Family Member of Charleston, South Carolina Church Massacre Speak on Forgiveness in Montgomery
It’s been nearly 4 years since Polly Sheppard’s life changed after Dylan Roof fatally shot nine people inside of her church, Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. She is leaning on one word these days – forgiveness.
“If you don’t forgive then you’re only harming yourself. It’s like you drinking poisen waiting on somebody else to die,” says Sheppard.
Sheppard was a member of the church for decades. Now she is turning her pain into action, speaking to crowds like across the country.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. A lot of division – politics and everything else so there’s a lot of work to be done,” says Sheppard.
Anthony Thompson whose wife was killed during the shooting is also sharing why forgiveness matters.
“Things happen you know and everybody takes it differently you know. But to get rid of – to bring a nation a city or community together you have to get rid of it by going to God and asking him to get rid of it and you forgive that person,” says Thompson.
Landmark Church of Christ leaders say the the event is needed for more unity peace and reconciliation.
“We all have forgiveness issues. Someone has done us wrong. In a community like Montgomery we’re trying to bridge gaps. In our nation where there seems to be so much polarization and hatred right now, we just think it’s the right message,” says Buddy Bell, Lead Minister at Landmark Church of Christ.
Now Sheppard and Thompson are hoping countless lives are changed by the power of forgiveness.
“It may not be all in my lifetime, but we’ve got to leave good footprints and that is, we’ve got to start right now,” says Thompson.
Next month, only on June 17th and June 19th, a film documenting the Emanuel AME Church shooting will debut in theaters everywhere.