Emanuel AME, the South Carolina church where nine people were murdered reopened for Sunday service today. The service, led by Reverend Norvel Goff, focused on themes of love and forgiveness. During his sermon, Goff said:
“It’s been rough. We some of us have been downright angry. But through it all, God has sustained us and encouraged us. Let us not grow weary.”
He promised that he and other community leaders would “pursue justice,” and continue to hold “elected officials accountable to do the right thing.”
The AP/Guardian reports that the service, which was both solemn and emotional, began with a reading of the victims’ names. The service was also marked by the visible presence of police, who were checked bags outside of the church and stood throughout the sanctuary.
Regardless, the congregation remained welcoming.
On Saturday, Harold Washington, 75, said he expected the sanctuary to host many newcomers after the shooting shattered the group’s sense of peace and security.
“We’re gonna have people come by that we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again, and that’s OK,” he said. “It’s a church of the Lord, you don’t turn nobody down.”
Images via Getty.