Grace Will Lead Us Home
A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine innocents during their closing prayer horrified the nation. Two days later, some relatives of the dead stood at Roof’s hearing and said, “I forgive you.” That grace offered the country a hopeful ending to an awful story. But for the survivors and victims’ families, the journey had just begun.In Grace Will Lead Us Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes provides a definitive account of the tragedy’s aftermath. With unprecedented access to the grieving families and other key figures, Hawes offers a nuanced and moving portrait of the events and emotions that emerged in the massacre’s wake.The two adult survivors of the shooting begin to make sense of their lives again. Rifts form between some of the victims’ families and the church. A group of relatives fights to end gun violence, capturing the attention of President Obama. And a city in the Deep South must confront its racist past. This is the story of how, beyond the headlines, a community of people begins to heal.An unforgettable and deeply human portrait of grief, faith, and forgiveness, Grace Will Lead Us Home is destined to be a classic in the finest tradition of journalism.

Grace Will Lead Us Home Details

TitleGrace Will Lead Us Home
Author
ReleaseJun 4th, 2019
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250117762
Rating
GenreNonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Crime, True Crime, Christian

Grace Will Lead Us Home Review

  • Brandice
    January 1, 1970
    Given its subject, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness was tough to read though very well-written. Devastating and terrible are the only words to describe what happened. I cannot fathom enduring what the victims and their families went through - and are still going through in their grief today, 4 years later. Grace Will Lead Us Home describes Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (aka: Mother Emanuel), its parishioners, the Given its subject, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness was tough to read though very well-written. Devastating and terrible are the only words to describe what happened. I cannot fathom enduring what the victims and their families went through - and are still going through in their grief today, 4 years later. Grace Will Lead Us Home describes Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (aka: Mother Emanuel), its parishioners, the local community, and home city of Charleston. The book details the deadly evening on June 17, 2015 as well as the aftermath - Who were the victims? How did their families survive? What happened at the shooter’s trial? How did this event impact Charleston?“This is a tragedy no community should have to experience,” he said, the firm tone of his words edged tightly with sorrow and determination. “It is senseless, and it is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.”Though the topic is heartbreaking, Jennifer Berry Hawes paints a vivid picture of the victims, their lives, the survivors, and the trial. I am in awe of the victims’ families’ forgiveness, some of which was offered right away. I don’t think I would ever be able to do that. Through Hawes’ writing, I felt like I was hearing directly from the survivors and sitting in the courtroom, watching the trial myself. It was also disappointing and at parts, infuriating, to see what Goff, the first new pastor at Mother Emanuel following the shooting, was up to and the gross mismanagement of donations received by the church for the victims’ families. ”Their portion was $150,340. Emanuel leaders had announced several months ago that well-wishers sent roughly $3.4 million to the church.” Goff seems shady AF - Yeah I said it, and my internet research after I finished this book did nothing to dissuade me of that notion. While some of the survivors were able to return to Mother Emanuel in time, Goff and the church’s questionable actions following the tragedy ultimately led others to seek out new churches to continue their worship elsewhere. As I read about this, it just seemed like an unnecessary blow on top of everything else they already had to endure. Reverend Pinckney’s wife, Jennifer, shared she felt robbed of a life with her husband, yet she still made every effort to provide a sense of normalcy for their two young daughters. The strength to forgive and the brave attempt to move on by the Mother Emmanuel survivors and their families is truly admirable. ”Through its two-hundred-year history, this congregation had survived slavery, segregation, wars, a massive earthquake, hangings, and fires set by white racists. They would show the world that while devastated, Emanuel wasn’t destroyed now, either. Evil had entered this sacred space, but Emanuel still meant “God with us.”Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advance copy of Grace Will Lead Us Home in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    It was about fifteen years ago that a stranger came to church and after worship service was directed to the young adult Sunday School class. He sat quietly during the discussion. Then he spoke up, asking what the church believed about a divisive social issue. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds before I was inspired to answer.I explained the official denomination's Social Principles. And I explained the wide range of personal beliefs that our community included. As we broke up, the man It was about fifteen years ago that a stranger came to church and after worship service was directed to the young adult Sunday School class. He sat quietly during the discussion. Then he spoke up, asking what the church believed about a divisive social issue. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds before I was inspired to answer.I explained the official denomination's Social Principles. And I explained the wide range of personal beliefs that our community included. As we broke up, the man asked to see the pastor and asked him the same question.The pastor was my husband. He explained the church doctrine and he gave his personal belief. The man nodded and said it was clear that the church was under the leadership of Satan.He was a quiet-spoken man and I do not recall any high emotion from his face or voice as he told us that he would return the following Sunday to proclaim to the world that this was a church lead by Satan.My husband conferred with church leaders and word got to a church member who was our state Senator. Her family were active members of the church and she reported the incident to the city police. They knew this man and said he was likely 'off his meds.' It was a fretful week. I was concerned that the man would return through the open doors and wreak havoc. Would he be violent? Would he have a gun? I pictured him walking up the aisle of the church, backlit by the summer sunshine coming in through the open double doors of the church, the risen Christ in stained glass above the entry.Sunday came and the police arrived and kept the man across the street.As the man shouted out his condemnation our church family drew strength and solidarity, from the teenagers to our septuagenarian WWII veteran whose wife restrained him from crossing the street and confronting the man.Churchs have conflicts and splits and bickering and disagreements. They are human institutions and filled with imperfect people. But the idea of a stranger entering and threatening lives was appalling. Yet it happens too often. Recently, there have been attacks on African American churches and a synagogue. It happened this past week in Sri Lanka and as I finished writing this a California synagogue was victimized by a hate crime attack. Our places of worship should be--are expected to be--safe havens for the church community and for the strangers who they welcome.Jennifer Berry Hawes wrote Grace Will Lead Us Home to "convey the sheer scope of devastation that mass tragedies sow in the lives of everyday people."The Charleston Church Massacre is a haunting tragedy. A stranger came to a Bible Study and murdered nine people. The reason Dylann Roof gave for his crime was that he "had to" do it. Indoctrinated by white supremacist website propaganda, Roof felt propelled to do something to reverse integration.The impact on the personal lives of the congregation was devastating. Hawes tells the story of the survivors and the families of the deceased; we get to know them as people we care about.For these people of faith, forgiveness is a Christian requirement they took seriously, forgiving Dylann Roof. What did that cost them to say those words! And what freedom was gained in letting go?The narrative power of the book was overwhelming, even if sad and disturbing. Set within the larger picture, I learned about Charleston's history of slavery, the birth and decline of Emmanuel AME Church, the history of racism and the backlash against segregation. It took this tragedy to retire the Confederate flag from the courthouse. The portrait of Dylann Roof was mystifying. His social intelligence allowed him to manipulate his parents and yet he could not make friends and avoided eye contact. Was he autistic?The massacre was horrific and tragic. And I was sorely disappointed by the lack of compassion and support offered from the AME church leadership. As Emmanuel's pastor was a victim, an interim pastor was appointed. His abuse of power was unimaginable.Grace Will Lead Us Home is a moving portrayal of a community in crisis and recovery.I received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Sharon Risher
    January 1, 1970
    Jennifer is such a gifted writer and story teller. Since, I’m mentioned in the book, I was overwhelmed of how she captured the true essence of who I am and how she showed the family members as regular people who had heart wrenching stories after such a tradgey. Great read!
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  • Dawn Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this book at 1:30am and spent the rest of the night [when I was not sleeping, which was a lot of the rest of the night] thinking about what to write in this review - to do this amazing book justice. To do the victims justice. To honor both the victims and the survivors. To impart to all those who are looking at this book just how important it is to pick this book up and read it. And feel it. Learn from it. And then turn around and both pass this book on to someone else and use what th I finished this book at 1:30am and spent the rest of the night [when I was not sleeping, which was a lot of the rest of the night] thinking about what to write in this review - to do this amazing book justice. To do the victims justice. To honor both the victims and the survivors. To impart to all those who are looking at this book just how important it is to pick this book up and read it. And feel it. Learn from it. And then turn around and both pass this book on to someone else and use what they have learned to help and support someone who is dealing with the aftermath of violence and racial hatred. And here it is almost 12 hours later and I am still struggling to find the right words...I had many, many emotions throughout this book - much sorrow, anger, frustration and then sorrow once again. Sorrow for these families and their loss. Sorrow for the loss of innocence for the beloved granddaughter who Felicia Sanders saved that night as she watched her beloved aunt and son die in front of her. Sorry for the survivors. There were many tears shed while reading this book. But there was also anger [I feel bad for those who know me because I ranted a LOT while reading this]. Lots and lots of anger - anger at the killer [I refuse to name him and give him any more power], anger at how the "church" handled the aftermath of the shooting and effectively abandoned the families of the victims AND the survivors and anger at the attitude just weeks later that it was business as usual in that city while people were still grieving and trying to figure out how to walk through life. And there was anger at some of the families themselves, that could and would not see past their own selves to heal the wounds within their families to be able to grieve together and heal together. There was a lot of anger and tears over those sections of the book. I pray that the victim's families and the survivors have found some semblance of peace [forgiveness gives you that, but you often have to work on that daily - sometimes even minute by minute] and are going to be able to move on in remembrance of what happened, but with peace in their hearts. I know from the epilogue that it doesn't happen for everyone, but again, forgiveness ties into that too. You can only move on and heal when you are willing to forgive those who will never receive it or ask for it back and when you are willing to pray over someone and blessings on someone who never, ever, deserves it. I would be remiss in this review if I didn't talk about how this book is also one on race and just how America still responds to acts of violence against African American people. Against people of color. Against anyone who they view as different because of skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and just how frustrating that is - that in 2019 we still have to have these conversations. This is another reason that this book is SO important. We NEED to keep these discussions alive - we NEED to learn from events such as this to move forward in acceptance and love and caring. We are ALL human beings and we need to be reminded of that. And no one passage brings this home more than the one below [it is near the end of the book] that I am including here, because for me, it shows perfectly just HOW FAR we still have to go. And to be honest, that is a very, very, sad thing. "And almost three years to the day after Roof slipped into Bible study, in the historical epicenter of America's slave trade, Charleston's City Council did something unimaginable before the massacre. Its members voted, albeit narrowly, to apologize on behalf of the city for its role in the institution of slavery. Many hailed the movie as an important step toward healing. Yet, among the five councilmen who opposed it - all but one of them white men - most said they wouldn't apologize for something they hadn't done [**SIDE-NOTE BY ME This is an example that is shown throughout this book - so many white people claiming that slavery had been good or that slaves had not been mistreated pops up again and again in this book as people were interviewed about the shooting. THIS was one of the most frustrating parts - just how blind people were to the past and to what was happening STILL at their own front doors]. As one former councilman asked: Why should we do it when so much of what we'd be apologizing for happened so long ago?"" <--And that folks is the crux of the issue. Until we who are white see the need to apologize, not only for the past, but for the present, we will always have people like the killer who think killing people of color is not only okay, but needed.Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nikol
    January 1, 1970
    An emotionally difficult book to read, but a necessary one. I remember exactly where I was when I initially heard about the shooting, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. A timely reminder that love is both grace and action.
  • Tony Bartelme
    January 1, 1970
    From a gifted writer, this is an important and very human look at how we manage and mismanage the emotional trauma of these horrific shootings.
  • Gerald Truesdale
    January 1, 1970
    Jennifer Berry Hawes spent the time getting things perfect in this account, and her ability to give you a front row seat into this tragedy is chilling and exectued with literary perfection. Her sincerity, compassion, and delivery of these lives lost makes your heart open and want to help. It is a must read !!! GGTIII
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  • Joy Pope
    January 1, 1970
    Riveting and very thought-provoking.
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This book was unputdownable. It is at turns wrenching, inspiring, and perplexing. It illuminates the various ways that very human people respond to tragedy and grief, and raises plenty of questions about mental illness and why someone would ever commit an act of violence like this. Jennifer Berry Hawes mines the complex racial history of Charleston throughout the book, specifically discussing the controversial removal of the confederate flag from the State House as well as the police shooting of This book was unputdownable. It is at turns wrenching, inspiring, and perplexing. It illuminates the various ways that very human people respond to tragedy and grief, and raises plenty of questions about mental illness and why someone would ever commit an act of violence like this. Jennifer Berry Hawes mines the complex racial history of Charleston throughout the book, specifically discussing the controversial removal of the confederate flag from the State House as well as the police shooting of Walter Scott, and she also does not shy away from exposing all the various angles through which racism continues today - while also showing glimpses of progress. I admired the way Hawes intimately wrote about the survivors of this tragedy, and truly made you feel close to each one. Excellent book that I would recommend to anybody.
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  • Tom
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written account of this tragedy. Hawes brings the community to life and makes you feel their pain. She makes plain the damage that a crime like this inflicts on the community around it, with waves of horror spreading out from it.And it's not a narrowly Christian story; it should appeal to everyone as a tale of real people dealing with unimaginable disruption and shock.My first advice is that you read this book. My second advice is to have a box of tissues nearby. It will break your hea Very well written account of this tragedy. Hawes brings the community to life and makes you feel their pain. She makes plain the damage that a crime like this inflicts on the community around it, with waves of horror spreading out from it.And it's not a narrowly Christian story; it should appeal to everyone as a tale of real people dealing with unimaginable disruption and shock.My first advice is that you read this book. My second advice is to have a box of tissues nearby. It will break your heart with horror and with grace.
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Devastating, heartbreaking, such senseless crimes we see today.Yet through it all we have reached out, held each other, comforted one another, and shown that evil will not be tolerated nor welcome.On 6-17-15 a young white man walked into Emmanual AME Church in S. Carolina to an evening bible study. Within minutes he created a false sense of belonging among the 12 unsuspecting victims who would be killed instantly by Dylann Roof using 88 bullets, a pistol, and a hope of creating a race war.Instea Devastating, heartbreaking, such senseless crimes we see today.Yet through it all we have reached out, held each other, comforted one another, and shown that evil will not be tolerated nor welcome.On 6-17-15 a young white man walked into Emmanual AME Church in S. Carolina to an evening bible study. Within minutes he created a false sense of belonging among the 12 unsuspecting victims who would be killed instantly by Dylann Roof using 88 bullets, a pistol, and a hope of creating a race war.Instead he was given the power of God, forgiveness, repentance for his sins, and the love of fellow parishioners who lost their loved ones.How this small town community picked up, how they created unity, how they empowered one another is the power of God and all that the church and the holy grounds provided them.The ending with President Obama and the singing of Amazing Grace wiped me out and placed me in that room with them all holding hands and bowing my head for god's grace.It's god's grace that the fallen received that day and they are in heaven but they will never be forgotten.Such a sad yet powerful reminder of the need to be united in a common cause rather than divided.Slavery has been abolished but many hold the pain within. A hidden reminder of just how cruel a nation can become when in the wrong hands.Thank you to Jennifer, the publisher, NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Sharon Putman
    January 1, 1970
    Who better to tell the story of the Emanuel Nine than Pulitzer Prize-winning hometown journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes, who has been crafting stories for the Charleston Post and Courier for two decades? Before the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the heart of downtown Charleston, she was the newspaper’s religion reporter and then a special projects reporter. As an ingrained part of that community and a captivating storyteller, she reported on the shooting and its aft Who better to tell the story of the Emanuel Nine than Pulitzer Prize-winning hometown journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes, who has been crafting stories for the Charleston Post and Courier for two decades? Before the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the heart of downtown Charleston, she was the newspaper’s religion reporter and then a special projects reporter. As an ingrained part of that community and a captivating storyteller, she reported on the shooting and its aftermath from day one—diving into her long-standing relationships not only with church members but also with South Carolina’s civic leaders and politicians to tell this story with much more than just the facts.Now, her beautifully written book Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness homes in on the heart of the matter—the people who lost their lives and those who lost their loved ones—with such grace and tenderness, giving readers a glimpse into a horrific story that few of us can even imagine being a part of. And yet, she also zooms out to give us a larger picture of broader issues that we can all identify with, from family quarrels to church rifts, along with issues that all Americans are a part of whether we like it or not: racial tension, white supremacy, and gun violence.Rather than preaching or attempting to offer solutions, Hawes does what all the best journalists do: she is a witness, giving readers the facts woven into a compelling narrative so that we understand not only what happened but perhaps why it happened. Yes, it is a horrifying story of violence, loss, and hatred, but it is also one of healing, compassion, and love. And yes, some of what happened in the months and years that followed June 17, 2015 does add insult to extreme injury, but Hawes drags the darkness out into the light and shows us how the Holy City, dotted with dozens of church steeples, has for centuries stared evil in the eye and still found innumerable ways to rebuild and gracefully rise again.
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  • Allyson Lutz
    January 1, 1970
    The frequency of mass killings in public places is sickening. The Charleston church massacre left nine innocent members dead at their Bible Study."Grace Will Lead Us Home," compels readers to follow the nine dead people, and their killer in this American Tragedy. The sacrament of death at Mother Emanuel AME Church is bone chilling. The decent into the twisted mind of a shy, lonely killer is a brilliant assessment of racism. The courage of the Governor of South Carolina is heroic. The police, may The frequency of mass killings in public places is sickening. The Charleston church massacre left nine innocent members dead at their Bible Study."Grace Will Lead Us Home," compels readers to follow the nine dead people, and their killer in this American Tragedy. The sacrament of death at Mother Emanuel AME Church is bone chilling. The decent into the twisted mind of a shy, lonely killer is a brilliant assessment of racism. The courage of the Governor of South Carolina is heroic. The police, mayor and ordinary citizens who dwell in the Souths' most southern city were gracious, always gracious.The book is also roller coaster, clear-eyed ride through southern politics, race, and redemption. ARedemption that emerges through the forgiveness of those still living. The forgiveness of people whose ancestors tilled the hard scrabbled earth of South Caroline's Rice Plantations. People who endured separate schools, churches, water fountains yet "stuck it out" and taught a wonderful Bible Story for all the ages.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    That subtitle basically says what needs to be said.  Jennifer Berry Hawes gives us an even-handed look at the horror in Charleston on June 17, 2015.  An atrocity that, for a moment in time and shared grief, appeared to unite us in a complete reversal of Dylann Roof’s avowed hope for race war.  Nine innocent lives are lost at historic Mother Emmanuel, and there is a tenth, lost but not innocent:  the shooter, lost to hatred.  Ms. Hawes movingly recounts the anguish of the families involved, and w That subtitle basically says what needs to be said.  Jennifer Berry Hawes gives us an even-handed look at the horror in Charleston on June 17, 2015.  An atrocity that, for a moment in time and shared grief, appeared to unite us in a complete reversal of Dylann Roof’s avowed hope for race war.  Nine innocent lives are lost at historic Mother Emmanuel, and there is a tenth, lost but not innocent:  the shooter, lost to hatred.  Ms. Hawes movingly recounts the anguish of the families involved, and willingly recognizes that, as human beings, we are all flawed.  In the aftermath, there are those who inspire us with forgiveness, others who struggle, family quarrels, and church schisms because, well . . . humans, you know.  The book offers no blinding insights or solutions to our ongoing struggles, but rather, it serves to remind us of the healing power of forgiveness and, for those who believe, the grace of God.  Oh, wait, did I say no insights or solutions?  Could be I was wrong.  A thoughtful read.Full Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided to me by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I would like to thank the publisher, the author and NetGalley for providing me this opportunity.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.
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  • Corinne
    January 1, 1970
    I found this account of the mass murders at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston fascinating. I well remember hearing about the murders and about the heroic acts of forgiveness by survivors at Dylann Roof’s first hearing. It is disappointing but perhaps not surprising to learn they were not able to maintain such mountain top faith/forgiveness for the long haul. The Devil is in the details of daily life.I would like to know more about what happened to the money sent to Mother Emmanuel and victims I found this account of the mass murders at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston fascinating. I well remember hearing about the murders and about the heroic acts of forgiveness by survivors at Dylann Roof’s first hearing. It is disappointing but perhaps not surprising to learn they were not able to maintain such mountain top faith/forgiveness for the long haul. The Devil is in the details of daily life.I would like to know more about what happened to the money sent to Mother Emmanuel and victims ‘ families and about AME pastor Norvel Goff.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Such a sad, true story. You could feel the familys' pain and sorrow throughout the book. Not only did they lose loved ones but they lost faith in their church and whar it stood for. Heartwrenching, emotional read that grips you and makes you angry at the killer for his actions.
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  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
    O
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