Rev. Sharon Risher speaks at CofC, delivers message of forgiveness and healing

Rev. Sharon Risher (Courtesy: Twitter/@RisherRev)

A speech delivered more like a sermon, from a woman who's faith was tested like never before in front of an intimate crowd at the College of Charleston.

Rev. Sharon Risher said her mother’s name, “But who was Ethel Lance? They showed the world that love always wins.”

She said the names of all the victims and survivors of the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. “I continue to say their names because my mission in life is helping people know that hate won't win.”

Community members and students listened as she told her story of learning to forgive and heal. “Hear I am, a woman of the cloth, talking about there was no instant forgiveness for me,” Risher said.

For Chloe Deveney, it was a history lesson. “I learned about it after I moved here, through people around me, but I didn't know about it before I came here.” she said.

The Connecticut native had no knowledge of the church shooting before coming to Charleston.

Through Risher, she said she's walking away with a deeper concern for gun laws. "We can help improve gun safety laws and keep this environment for everyone in it safe."

For Kristina Wassermann, she has a new understanding of the need to spread love. “The thing that struck me the most was when she said, ‘Hate won't win. There's too much love here.’ That really hit home for me, that was really powerful and really important to hear.”

For those who lived here that horrific night, like C.T. Burton, she says a word of encouragement is always needed in the Holy City. "It was perfect timing for it. Black History Month starts tomorrow. Two years later I think our community still needs to hear this message."

Risher, a minister, said through this tragedy, she’s become a full time activist.

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