1: 20 p.m.
A couple of dozen parishioners have gathered in the church basement where nine members of a historic black church were fatally shot last week.
Some hugged and cried, while one man chose to sit in quiet reflection. On one of the basement’s walls hangs a photograph of the late lead pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
Pinckney, who was also a state senator, was one of the nine people fatally shot Wednesday night when authorities say a white man opened fire in the church basement during a Bible study. Authorities are investigating the attack as a racially motivated hate crime.
Emanuel’s sanctuary was reopened Sunday for the first worship service since the shooting.
The acting pastor of the historic black church where nine people were fatally shot says reopening the doors of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church so soon afterward “sends a message to every demon in hell and on Earth.”
The Rev. Norvel Goff told a large crowd attending the first services at the church since Wednesday’s mass shooting that “we are serving notice on every evildoer.”
“Just because you think you got the victory … the only way evil can triumph is for good folks to sit down and do nothing.”
Goff also said that those who may have expected members of the church or the black community to riot or resort to violence following the shootings “just don’t know us.”
Goff said it is time for people of all races to come together to work for peace in the community, even though “some wanted to divide the races: black, white and brown.”
Goff said members of the community “will join hands and begin to work together to forge a new partnership — not them against us — but we are the children of God who will be marching on to victory.”
The acting pastor of the historic black church where a white man fatally shot nine people is thanking police and community members for helping church members heal — and pledging to ensure that justice in the case is achieved.
The Rev. Norvel Goff told a large crowd attending the first services at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since the shooting that the death of the church members has “been tough.”
“It’s been rough,” Goff said. “We some of us have been downright angry.””But through it all, God has sustained us and encouraged us. Let us not grow weary.”
Goff is a presiding elder of the 7th District AME Church in South Carolina. He was appointed to lead the historic Charleston church after Senior Pastor Clementa Pinckney was shot and killed. He will remain at the church until a new pastor is named.
Goff vowed that he and others will “pursue justice and we’re going to be vigilant and we are going to hold our elected officials accountable to do the right thing.”
The first service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since nine people were killed during a Bible service is continuing with enthusiastic songs, music and clapping.
The service then became more solemn as the victims’ names were read and the music’s tempo slowed.
It’s the first service since authorities say a gunman opened fire Wednesday night in a racially motivated attack.
Church bells are ringing throughout Charleston in remembrance of nine people who were slain during a Bible study in what has been called a racially motivated attack.
The ringing bells were part of a loosely organized movement to honor the victims Sunday. To some, Charleston is known as the “Holy City” because of the numerous churches throughout downtown.
As the bells rang, people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church held their first worship service since the massacre.
Authorities say 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire during the Bible study on Wednesday night. Slain were Emanuel’s pastor, as well as others involved in the community and church.
The historic black church Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal has started its first worship service since nine of its members, including its pastor, were gunned down during a Bible study.
The church was filled for the service Sunday morning. Uniformed police officers are posted on both levels of the sanctuary.
The service began with prayer and songs.
Authorities say a young white man, Dylann Roof, opened fired at the church on Wednesday night in a racially motivated attack. He was arrested a day later.
He had a bond hearing on Friday. Some victims’ families spoke to him then, offering him forgiveness and mercy.
The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, says people in his town are telling him they can’t stop crying about the church shootings.
Joseph Riley says the grief and mourning is so widespread in his city that he can only compare it to the feeling of loss people had when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The mayor says “my heart is broken” by the actions of what he calls “an evil man with his bigoted mind.”
Riley says he’s touched by the outpouring of support for the victims’ families — a private citizen handed him a $10,000 check on Sunday morning — and he says the NFL’s Carolina Panthers have contributed $100,000.
Riley was interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union” — one of the several news shows he appeared on before church services.
He also called for action on guns and race relations.
“If we in America can’t use this as a reason to address these issues, then you know, we’re not doing a very good job.”
Members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church are being let in through a side door, presumably so they can have Sunday school.
The main service will start at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and will be the first time the congregation has worshipped at the historic black church known as the “Mother.” Police say a 21-year-old white man opened fire at the end of a Bible study on Wednesday, killing nine people in a racially motivated church.
The suspect, Dylann Roof, is being held in jail on nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.
Outside the church, people are lining up to attend the service.
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