The Ministers Fellowship is calling on all people of conscience to join in a Prayer Vigil to express condolences to the people of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and condemn racist violence. The vigil will take place on Sun., Jun. 21 at 5:00 PM at the African American Performing Arts Center at 310 San Pedro NE.

On Wed., Jun., 17 a self-declared racist joined in with an African-American prayer service, gaining the trust of the worshipers, and then began executing them, killing nine of those at the prayer meeting.

“As we prayer for Charleston and our churches here in our city–that this tragedy will not exist in our city and we will stand strongly together,” said Rev. N. D. Smith with Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, the church in Southeast Albuquerque that hosted the press conference that drew 50 people from diverse communities.

Many religious leaders stood together at the press conference that included statements from African-American leaders of three of Albuquerque’s churches.

“It is with profound dismay and grief that we, the African Methodist Episcopal Church family, have received the news of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC,” said Rev. John D. Hill of Grant Chapel AME Church, the oldest African American church whose congregation chose the name of an escaped slave who fought in the union army, Bishop Alexander Grant, and that has its own history as a center for civil rights activity in New Mexico.

“We cannot let the repeated violence that is taking place against our people all across the nation numb us into complacency,” warned Rev. Dr. Charles E. Becknell, Sr., Pres. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of NM and Pastor of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church. “Our nation is at a crossroads—which path will we take? Will we make a bold statement for love and respect for one another or will we hide our heads in the sand?”

“Those here today represent approximately 33 African-American congregations, Father [Frank] Quintana from the [Blessed Oscar Romero] Catholic Church, and some brothers from the Mosque,” said Bishop David C. Cooper, Sr. of the New Hope Full Gospel Baptist Church, the largest African-American church in Albuquerque.

“This discussion of racism has been put on the back-burner. We want to discuss gun violence, but it [the gun] was in the hands of a racist person who walked into a place of a historical Black institution, to kill people,” added Bishop Cooper.

The ANSWER Coalition is working closely with the Ministers’ Fellowship to support and promote the call for the Prayer Vigil.