Expressions of grief, faith and gratitude on Sunday filled the space of a horrific mass killing at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, as the venerable structure was again a house of worship.
Hundreds filled the pews of the historic church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“The doors of the church are open,” declared the Rev. Norvel Goff during prayers. “No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church,” he proclaimed.
They sang hymns, prayed and remembered the nine church members shot to death Wednesday night during Bible study.
One of the victims was the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. His seat behind the podium was shrouded in black cloth and uniformed police officers were present in the side aisles.
Overcoming evil with faith in God was a theme throughout the service.
“It’s by faith that we are standing here and sitting here,” Goff said. “It has been tough. It has been rough. Some of us have been downright angry. But through it all God has sustained us.”
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