Church Congregations Reflect on Charleston Shootings
Members of church congregations around Charlottesville reflect on the church shooting that happened in Charleston almost a year ago.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As one community deals with tragedy in Florida, another community in South Carolina is still grieving. Friday, June 17 will mark one year since a gunman killed nine people at a bible study in Charleston.
Charleston and the church ravaged by that shooting will never quite be the same. The violence also had a profound effect on anyone who is part of a congregation somewhere and regularly spends time in what's supposed to be the safest place there is.
"It hurt deeply - the loss of life, the families that's been disrupted,” said Alvin Edwards of the Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church.
After the tragic events of June 17, 2015, the fear spread to Pastor Nathaniel Drew's congregation at the Bethany Seventh Day Adventist Church.
"I've had church members of mine - some of whom felt a little uncomfortable at first - coming back out to prayer meetings, just out of fear that that sort of thing could happen,” Drew said.
Those concerns brought the group of clergy together over the last year, determined they'd be better together than apart.
“Finding ways to be in relationship with one another, forging friendships that promise to support any one of us who have needs,” Edwards said.
The group sees a common thread between the attack inside a predominantly African-American church and the attack inside a predominately gay nightclub.
In both cases, sanctuary came crashing down.
"We know that sanctuary has been violated in the history of all faiths. People have been killed in churches, temples, synagogues, mosques,” said Heather Warren of St. Paul’s Memorial Church.
Together, they're vowing to not let even the most severe violence stop them from what they consider to be most precious.
"That is a risk we are willing to take because we do believe that love wins and our hope and faith is in love,” Warren stated.
The group's also calling for stricter gun control laws.
Dylan Roof, the suspect in that Charleston shooting, sits behind bars as he awaits his trial in 2017. He could face the death penalty if convicted.