For Such a Time as This: Hope and Forgiveness after the Charleston Massacre

Chalice. Jun. 2019. 144p. ISBN 9780827243231. pap. $17.99. REL
In simple, conversational language, hospital chaplain Risher documents her life prior to and after the moment her mother, two cousins, and other dear friends were brutally gunned down by white supremacist Dylann Roof. At Roof’s trial, she learns that he visited Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, at least three times prior and that he was welcomed into their Bible study with warmth—only to later open fire as participants lowered their heads in prayer. The funeral of Emanuel’s pastor, Clementa Pinkney, was the scene of President Obama’s moving and impromptu singing of “Amazing Grace,” a moment of national significance in the struggle against America’s rising white supremacist movement. Risher’s journey from sorrow to forgiveness is complicated by her vocation: she should forgive, but it’s a hard-fought battle. Her victim impact statement (“I pray those nine angels will visit you every night in your cell to have Bible study with you”) begins her arduous path toward forgiveness.
VERDICT A timely witness to the power of one.

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