Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal(AME) Church in Philadelphia spoke with Talk Radio 1210 WPHT evening host Gary R’nel about the outpouring of support that he has received following the massacre in a Charleston, South Carolina church.
“This hit us all very hard and I think when we woke up this morning, there was a sense that as AME’s we need to do something, but as the day went on and the people who reached out to us, the Pastor of Christ Church, my new Jewish synagogue rabbi down the street that I haven’t even met yet reached out saying that ‘I’m bringing my people there. Whatever you’re going to do we’re going to be there.’ the Imam who reached out—as people started reaching out even people within union groups we recognize that this is so much bigger than our family and we had to have something that’s interfaith and that every person of faith who goes into a place they call a sanctuary goes in with an expectation that you’ll be free to worship. That you can close your eyes in prayer and not be harmed. So, this hurts anyone of faith.”
The AME church is a worldwide denomination with origins based in Philadelphia and has spread to 5 continents, 39 countries and now have over 3 million members.
Seeing that many of Tyler’s congregation send their children to South Carolina each summer to experience what the “AME Country” is like and have maintained strong ties to the most densely populated state in the union with over 700 AME churches.
“Therefore, there are people all over the country that are grieving like us, because all of us have some kind of family ties, it seems, back to South Carolina.”
While he says that the shooting had “shaken” his faith in a way, the support that he has seen since has “reaffirmed and strengthened” his faith.
“I’ve literally been moved to almost tears so many times when I’ve opened emails from people today. Even someone who we’ve had some major odds, some community kind of struggles recently over just different visions about the community, but this guy sent me an email saying ‘they hurt you, that hurts me. Whatever you need I’m there for you and I’ll bring people.’ It’s been that kind of day.”