The young pastor stood in a house filled with mourners ready to minister. His parishioner had been strangled, her body dumped.
The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning prayed with the victim’s devastated mother, reciting from Psalms, one of his favorite books in the Bible: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Days later, Manning led the funeral for the young woman.
It was his first eulogy for a murder victim.
“Standing there delivering the eulogy was hard but God brought me through that,” he said, recalling that emotional moment 14 years ago.
Over the years, Manning has dealt with tragedy and death, including in his own family.
And the prayers and comfort he knows how to give to people who have lost a loved one in a sudden, savage way prepared him for what is one of the toughest recent pastor assignments in America: being the spiritual leader of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine members, including the church’s beloved pastor, during a Bible study in June 2015.
“God, through every aspect, every juncture of my life, was preparing me for this time,” said Manning, 49, who was handpicked to shepherd a traumatized congregation that he admits he’s still figuring out how to lead. “No one’s ever seen this before.”
CLICK HERE to read story