RIDGELAND, SC (WSAV) – As memorials went on to honor the victims of the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, in Jasper County it was a day to dedicate a new monument to one of the victims, and one of Ridgeland’s own.
The church at St John’s AME is about more than just the physical property its about the congregation inside and the people who worship here.
One of those people was Rev. Clementa Pinckney. The state senator shot and killed in Charleston in 2015. His memory lives on not just in the church but outside with a new monument plaque in his honor.
It was designed and paid for by the church itself and the Jasper County Historic Association.
The sign revealed to honor this local son and local hero.
“His first sermon was right here in this church,” says congregation member Florence Morse, who knew Pinckney almost from birth.
Now the monument will stand proudly outside to make sure everyone knows what he meant not only to them but all of Jasper County.
“Everything. He means everything to this community,” says Morse. “He was a God-loving child and he helped everyone he could have helped.”
He helped many people during his time as a Reverend. His preaching started at the age of 14.
“We knew from an early age he was special and would go a long ways,” said Carl Tyler.
The emotions got the better of Carl Tyler as talks about the man he calls another son.
“It flooded my heart when i got the news and it still floods its the same way,” said Carl.
The news, that Pinckney was one of nine people shot and killed by white supremacist Dylan Roof inside the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston back in 2015.
But this day wasn’t about his death, but the incredible life he led. A life that went from the church pulpit to the statehouse in Columbia.
“No matter what he did or where he went he was the same,” said Thomasina Tyler. “He was a gentle giant.”
A giant in this community and in the state. A man who’s name will forever stand tall for everyone to see here in Jasper County. His tragic loss and words of wisdom everyone can learn from in the future.
“He constantly preached and advocated love and affection and goodwill toward mankind. And the opposite ended his life,” said Carl Tyler.
The plaque joins a stone monument in the back of the church also dedicated to the Reverend.
Pinckney’s friends, his parishioners say that if he was here right now, all they would want to tell him is keep going, keep doing what you are doing. Keep making a difference. Words they hope others will listen to now that he is not here anymore.