Jennifer Berry Hawes: A reporter maps the journey to forgiveness in the wake of a church massacre | 8/20/2019 | Staff
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Jennifer Berry Hawes is a reporter’s reporter. She loves the pulse of the newsroom, the digging for sources and angles, the rush of meeting deadlines.

Throughout her 25-year journalism career, Hawes has written for daily newspapers. Since 1998 (minus a five-year child-rearing hiatus), she has been on staff at the Charleston, South Carolina, Post and Courier, one of the nation’s last independently owned dailies.

Reporter - Hawes - Stories - Hometown - World

As a front-line reporter, Hawes was filing on-the-ground stories when her hometown witnessed one of the world’s biggest news events of the summer of 2015 -- the racist massacre of nine Bible study attendees at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church.

Hawes and her Post and Courier colleagues covered the shooting in all its grisly, tragic detail and then, long after the television cameras and cable news crews cleared out, the unfolding aftermath -- the criminal investigation, the church’s response, the community’s response, the survivors’ struggles.

Summer - Hawes - Book - Shooting - Grace

This summer, Hawes’ book about the shooting, “Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness” (St. Martin’s, 2019), was released in the week before the event’s fourth anniversary. Its timely theme is the hard work of healing for a community and for survivors.

Drawing on her decade of experience as a “faith and values” religion reporter, Hawes delves into the complexity of forgiveness for many of the survivors, as well as the challenges faced by, and in some cases caused by, church leadership in the wake of the shooting -- all set in the broader historical context of race and the black church in Charleston.

Hawes - Writer - Stephanie - Hunt - Experience

Hawes spoke with writer Stephanie Hunt about her experience writing the book and the lessons she hopes faith leaders can learn from it. The following is an edited transcript.

Faith & Leadership: How would you describe the dynamic of covering an unfolding story as it...
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