Charleston AME Church Holds First Service Since Shooting

Matthew 24:10,11 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

The Charleston AME church has had their first service since the horrific, race motivated killings of nine church members during a bible study.

“The doors of the church are open. No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church,” Rev. Norvel Goff Sr., a presiding elder of the 7th District AME Church in South Carolina, told the congregation, according to CNN.

The gunman, Dylann Roof, claimed that he wanted to “start a race war.”  Roof also reportedly said the church was a secondary target; that he initially considered attacking the College of Charleston.

“It’s by faith that we are standing here and sitting here,” Goff said during the service. “It has been tough. It has been rough. Some of us have been downright angry. But through it all God has sustained us. … Lots of folks expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot. Well, they just don’t know us.”

The new interim leader added, “We have shown the world how we as a group of people can come together and pray and work out things that need to be worked out.”

Goff will remain at the church until a new pastor is named.

Pastors from around the community came together to rally around the church.

“As a pastor in this city, a husband and a father to two boys and two girls, my heart broke in grief and disbelief,” Rev. Brandon Bowers, a white man who is the lead pastor of Awaken, said. “What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good. We are here to pray for the healing that needs to come.”

Leaders in South Carolina are now calling for the banning of the Confederate flag in the wake of the shooting.  The hanging of the flag in the state’s capitol has become a serious point of contention.

“The Confederate battle flag, years and years ago, was appropriated as a symbol of hate,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said, and having it fly at the state Capitol “at best sends mixed messages to those who want to understand it as a part of history.”

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