Body of South Carolina Pastor Clementa Pinckney lying in state; remembered as … – Fox News
Hours before State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was shot dead by a deranged gunman during a Bible study meeting inside a storied Charleston, S.C., church, he lobbied for funding for foster children and went into his wallet to pull out $20 to give to a colleague collecting for a gift for senate janitors.
“Clem wasn’t a rich person,” State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who sat behind him in the Senate, told The Post and Courier. “But the last time I saw him, he was giving.”
Such recollections of Pinckney, 41, have been pouring in since he and eight others were killed by a gunman last Wednesday inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The body of the revered pastor and statesman is lying in state inside the Columbia capitol building until 5 p.m. A horse-drawn caisson carrying Pinckney’s body arrived at the Statehouse just before 1 p.m. so visitors can pay their respects.
The caisson passed directly by the Confederate flag on a pole on the Statehouse grounds. The caisson is flanked by two police cars with lights on.
Gloria Wingard, 66, of Columbia, had been there since 9:30 a.m.
“I’m here to honor him and the things that he’d done,” she said of Pinckney.
“What the church is all about, is freedom to be fully what God intends us to be and have equality in the sight of God.”
- Pastor Clementa Pinckney in 2013
Officials are expecting a large turnout and have canceled other tours inside the building. President Obama is also set to deliver the eulogy at Pinckney’s funeral, which is set to be held Friday at TD Arena at the College of Charleston. To those who knew the leader, the attention comes as little surprise.
Pinckney, who was married and a father of two, is remembered as a man with a tight schedule, but always willing to stop and talk and listen intently to constituents. He traveled widely within the state and, according to The New York Times, so much so that he called himself the “itinerant pastor.”
He had a voice since a young age and his resume is evidence of that. He began to preach at the age of 13 and was appointed as pastor five years later. He was elected to the state house at 23. Sheheen remembered the Democrat as “a voice for the voiceless. And those issues aren’t high profile — because they are about the voiceless.”
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford told the Associated Press that Pinckney served his flock as well as his constituents.
“He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.”
The shooting occurred in one of the South’s most venerable African-American churches. Denmark Vesey, a church founder, was hanged after trying to organize a slave revolt in 1822, and white landowners burned the church in revenge, leaving parishioners to worship underground until after the Civil War. The congregation rebuilt the church and grew stronger. Martin Luther King Jr. brought the 1960’s campaign for voting rights to its pulpit.
Pinckney recalled his church’s past in a 2013 sermon, saying, “we don’t see ourselves as just a place where we come to worship, but as a beacon and as a bearer of the culture.”
“What the church is all about,” Pinckney said, is the “freedom to be fully what God intends us to be and have equality in the sight of God. And sometimes you got to make noise to do that. Sometimes you may have to die like Denmark Vesey to do that.”
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. called the shooting “an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind.”
“Of all cities, in Charleston, to have a horrible hateful person go into the church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond any comprehension and is not explained,” Riley said. “We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family.”
Pinckney may have been the most well-known victim, but profiles of the others — each of whom reportedly welcomed the gunman as a guest to sit and listen during their Bible study — also emerged.
The other victims were Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, was a part-time minister at Emanuel AME Church and worked as a speech pathologist at Goose Creek High School, where she was also the girls track coach. Services will be held on Thursday at the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston.
Ethel Lance, 70, was a Charleston native who had been a member of the church for most of her life. She retired after working for more than 30 years on the housekeeping staff at the city’s Gaillard Auditorium. Visitation will be held Wednesday from 5-8 p.m., and the funeral will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, according to The Palmetto Mortuary.
Susie Jackson, 87, was a longtime church member and sang in the choir. She and Ethel Lance were cousins. Jackson had recently visited her son and grandchildren in Cleveland, Ohio. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Emanuel AME in Charleston. Jackson was Sanders’ aunt and their funerals will be held together.
Cynthia Hurd‘s brother took some comfort in knowing that his sister died in the church she grew up in and loved.
Hurd, 54, was the manager of one of the busiest branches of the Charleston County library system. In her honor, the system closed all 16 of its branches Thursday, the day after her death. A wake will run from 8:30-10 p.m. Friday at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. A ceremony will be conducted during the first half hour by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, of which Hurd was a member.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor, the 49-year-old mother of four, had started a new job as an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University’s Charleston campus in December. In January, after much thought and prayer, she decided to return to her childhood roots and attend the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Funeral arrangements are being finalized, and are likely to be released on Wednesday, according to The Palmetto Mortuary in Charleston.
Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74, was a retired minister who served for 30 years at the Olive Branch African Methodist Episcopal Church; The Friendship AME, and St. Luke’s AME. Simmons was an avid fan of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, according to grandson and namesake Daniel Simmons III. Arrangements are pending for the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., a minister at Emanuel AME. Flowers and gifts can be sent to New Life Church in Hampton, Va., according to granddaughter Ava Simmons.
Tywanza Sanders, 26, graduated last year from Allen University, where he studied business. In a news release, the school described Sanders as “a quiet, well-known student” with “a warm and helpful spirit.” Funeral services will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Emanuel AME in Charleston, according to Murray’s Mortuary in North Charleston.
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report