Remembering the Charleston Nine

The following is a brief introduction to a liturgical art series coordinated by Rev. Janet James, pastor of the Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church. She and other congregation members created icons for their service of All Saints’ Day in 2016. Her reflections and pictures of the icons follow. Her full bio is below.

These mixed media icon-like images were done by members of The Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church (Richmond, VA) for our All Saints’ Day celebration in November 2016.

These images invite us to remember those whose lives were taken on June 17, 2015, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. The Charleston faithful were people who gathered on a Wednesday evening for Bible study in the sanctuary of their church. Dylann Roof, the shooter, picked a black church in order to purposefully kill black individuals. He has since been convicted and sentenced to death, although Emanuel AME has stated that they do not support the death penalty.

An additional icon is included of a police officer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Corporal Montrell Jackson, who was killed in the line of duty on July 17, 2016, by Gavin Eugene Long. Jackson was killed along with two other officers, Officer Matthew Gerald and Deputy Brad Garafola. Long singularly attacked Louisiana police officers for what appeared to be an attempt to strike at the U.S. government and law enforcement in response to highly publicized police killings of unarmed black men: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling (of Baton Rouge), and others. Corporal Jackson leaves behind a wife and a son, four months old at the time of his father's death.

As we remember that they are a part of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, we invite you to remember others who have passed on and give thanks to God for those who were faithful in ways that supported and inspired your life and walk of faith: teachers, coaches, preachers, librarians, Sunday School teachers, pastors, police officers, family and friends.

The Charleston Nine

Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54)

Susie Jackson (87)

Ethel Lee Lance (70)

Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49)

Clementa C. Pinckney (41)

Tywanza Sanders (26)

Daniel Simmons (74)

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45)

Myra Thompson (59)


Janet James serves as the Pastor of the Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church. She has a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, a Master of Education from East Tennessee State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee.  She previously served as Associate Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA. Janet served as the Moderator of the Presbytery of the James in 2011. She preaches and teaches regularly, is a talented artist, and does a zillion other things to help the Kirk further God’s mission in the world.