(WNS)–Clementa Pinckney, senior pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., was remembered by colleagues and friends as a godly man who cared deeply for others. Pinckney was murdered along with eight of his parishioners on June 17 as he led a prayer service.
“What stood out more than his big frame and booming voice was his astronomical heart he had for his fellow man,” said state Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler.
Pinckney’s empty desk in the Senate chamber was draped in black and covered in flowers as fellow lawmakers mourned his loss.
“He had a core not many of us have,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who sat beside him. “I think of the irony that the most gentle of the 46 of us—the best of the 46 of us in this chamber—is the one who lost his life.”
Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at age 23, the youngest African-American ever elected to public office in South Carolina. Four years later in 2000, he was elected to the State Senate, where he served until his death.
President Barack Obama said Pinckney’s church, known as “Mother Emanuel,” had a “sacred place in the history of America.”
In 1995, Pinckney graduated from Allen University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. In 1999, he earned a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina. That same year, he was featured in the November issue of Ebony magazine as one of “30 Leaders of the Future.” In 2008, he graduated from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a Masters of Divinity.
Pinckney took his first pastoral position at age 18. He led Emanuel A.M.E. since 2010.