Charleston church hosts PBS special on aftermath of shooting

Circular Congregational ChurchA United Church of Christ congregation in Charleston, S.C., played host to a discussion on race that will be televised Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET. Circular Congregational Church was the setting for an hour-long PBS special, America After Charleston, that examines the aftermath of the deadly shooting in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine black men and women were gunned down in June.

The Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, pastor of Circular Congregational Church, believes the congregation was chosen for two reasons. “One reason is our proximity to Mother Emanuel, so the filming could be close [to where the shooting took place], without being inside, but nearby,” he said. “The other reason is that Circular has been engaged in social justice work for a long time. We are part of a Charleston-area justice ministry, with 29 congregations in this interfaith effort working for social justice and racial justice. We have that justice ethos. It’s something we’re proud of.”

PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill moderated the town-hall meeting, which explores issues that moved to the center of the nation’s attention after a white gunman opened fire on 11 African-American members of Emanuel AME Church in June, killing nine of them, including the pastor. The town hall brings together a range of voices for conversation, including families of the victims, Charleston community leaders and clergy from across the nation. The discussion touches on a variety of topics: racial disparities in education; healthcare, wealth and judicial inequality; and politics.

The three-hour discussion was recorded Sept. 19 in front of a live audience, which Rutledge estimated to be about 250 people, and was edited into the one-hour program.

“The church sort of turned into a broadcast studio, but the crew was very kind and careful in the space,” Rutledge said. “It seemed like people really wanted this conversation to happen, and to lead us toward real and meaningful action.”

The program will incorporate live tweets during the broadcast. Viewers can be part of the discussion using the hashtag #AfterCharlestonPBS.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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