“You are already forgiven,” proclaimed the Rev. Anthony Thompson, at the joint Lenten Service held at First Baptist Church of Charleston at noon today March 22, 2017. “God is just wondering when you will forgive yourself.” His powerful message of forgiveness was delivered before an almost full house. “You forgive others so that your own healing can begin,” he continued.

Rev. Thompson’s wife was one of the nine worshipers killed by Dylan Roof at Mother Emanuel AME Church during a Wednesday night Bible study. At the bond hearing that followed the next day, Rev. Thompson was able to forgive the killer and to invite him to a relationship with Jesus. His example set the tone for the response of Charleston to the carnage of mindless racial slaughter. Charleston in turn has set the example for the rest of the nation.

The Lenten Series is a product of cooperation between First Baptist Church, First Scotts Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. There were many other congregations represented in today’s service. Rev. Thompson is pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church. Beverly Bradley was the organist.

The program next week is at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Mayor John Tecklenburg of Charleston is the speaker. A lunch follows each program hosted by the church of the week.