Resilience and faith were on display Sunday morning (June 21) at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. Reopening its doors after a heinous attack claimed the lives of nine victims last Wednesday (June 17), the congregation was met with supporters who joined the early service to pay their respects to those lost, including the church’s pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney.
“We still believe that prayer changes things. Can I get a witness?” Rev. Norvel Goff said, according to the Associated Press. “But prayer not only changes things, it changes us.”
Crowds of people gathered outside of Emanuel AME during the service as well, standing in solidarity for the mourning members of the church. Police officers were also on hand at the service, monitoring what members brought into the building as an added security measure.
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Clapping along outside Emanuel AME Church at the first service since the #CharlestonShooting https://t.co/7ZyxnEVpGi
— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) June 21, 2015
Emanuel AME congregation this morning #chsnews #CharlestonShooting pic.twitter.com/6Gv4SC8UH0
— Melissa Boughton (@mboughtonPC) June 21, 2015
Security is tight to get into Emanuel AME today. No bags, cameras, or water bottles allowed. #CharlestonShooting pic.twitter.com/IHvgU6iqyy
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 21, 2015
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Despite the spirit of moving forward, however, members of the congregation still acknowledged that a gripping tragedy has happened, and will leave a mark.
“I think just because of what people have gone through emotions are definitely heightened, not just in Charleston but with anyone going to church because it is such a sacred place, it is such a safe place,” Shae Edros, 29, told AP. “To have something like that completely shattered by such evil — I think it will be in the back of everyone’s heads, really.”
After ringing church bells in honor of Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Depayne Middleton Doctor and Susie Jackson, Rev. John Gillison prayed for the families of the victims, according to USA Today.
“We ask that (God) would guide the families that have been victimized,” he said. “The devil was trying to take charge but thanks be to God, the devil can’t take control of your church. The devil can’t take control of your people.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images