Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is my church. It is where I was christened as a child, and where I learned many of the values I take with me daily on this life’s journey. Those principles of perseverance, kindness to others, respect, Godliness and leadership were all nurtured within the hallowed walls of her sanctuary. It is there that I learned the resolve that has allowed us all to deal with the tragic events of June 17 with grace, love and forgiveness.

We will eventually heal, but we will never be the same. As a trustee and life-long member of Mother Emanuel, I want to thank you for the kindness and love you have shown to our congregation. Mother Emanuel has a history of overcoming adversity, and for over 200 years she has stood steadfast, her steeple serving as a beacon for those in need. She will once again stay true to her congregation and survive this terrible ordeal.

From the strength of her members, we can all learn some very important lessons. We must come together, stay together and work together to show the world that Charleston will be the standard-bearer as a city.

But as we pray and as we think, we must develop our plan. We will develop policies to “protect our people.” Policies that will make sure this city works for everyone. Policies that mean that we will stay forever united and focused on doing what is best for everyone.

The events of June 17 have shown us that we can do all of these things. Out of tragedy we have found a light and a way. We must dedicate ourselves to ensuring this spirit of “One Charleston” remains intact and resolute.

So that the lives of the Emanuel Nine were not lost in vain, we must all see to it that this remains the reality for generations to come.

William D. Gregorie

Charleston City Council

District Six

Grove Street

Charleston