Bethel AME Church In Kansas City 'Keeps Doors Open' Despite Tragedy In Charleston
In the aftermath of the shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, faith leaders in Kansas City are focused on moving forward.
At Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the message during Sunday's Father's Day service was simple: the church will continue to welcome members and visitors regardless of the tragedy.
Tears streamed down the Rev. Robert Shaw's face as he read the names of the nine victims in last week's shooting. But Shaw made it clear that the day was about moving forward, not wallowing in fear or sadness.
"Even in the midst of it all, we still believe the church doors have to be open," Shaw said. "We still have to open up our arms to reckon with love, and to move beyond all levels of differences that we may have."
Jackie Beard is the education director for Bethel AME, and has been with the church for more than 30 years. She believes the shooting in Charleston is symptomatic of larger problems in race in America.
"In the past, because of the generation that I grew up in, I was well aware that bigotry was present," Beard said. "I think for my kids, it's probably hard to deal with because they didn't grow up with this [violence]. We can use it to educate and grow as a human race, and we don't have to use it as a divisive thing."
Shaw said the church often has security on Sundays, but will continue to operate the way it normally does.