RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — About 200 people worshipped during a special service Thursday night at the historic St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Edenton St. in Raleigh, one day after nine churchgoers were murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
“I think the world is with us tonight just commemorating the nine that were murdered last night,” David Davies said.
Chimes rang out and candles were lit for each of those nine victims, which includes Tywanza Sanders and Susie Jackson, the son and aunt, respectively, of Tyrone Sanders, a 1976 alum of St. Augustine’s University.
University President Dr. Everett Ward attended the service and spoke.
“Our Charleston alumni association notified the university and we have attempted to reach out to him, but of course, under these circumstances, I’m sure you understand, but our prayers are with him,” Ward said.
The service brought together members of a variety of AME churches from around the triangle.
“The spirit was high, it was positive,” Andrea Parham said, “Everyone got up and said something very genuine pertaining to the incident and although there was sorrow, there was still some goodness that came out of this.”
At one point, the service turned political, when state NAACP President William Barber spoke about, what he believes, is a racist system in South Carolina, that has denied Medicaid expansion and continues to fly a confederate flag.
“You can’t separate the two,” Reverend Dr. Cynthia Kelly said. “You can’t separate the fact that that was part of what Jesus was. Jesus was an extremely political person.”
Besides politics, there was also a message of unity.
“Because there are so many things that unite us,” St. Paul’s AME Church Reverend Gregory Edmond said, “than the few things that keep us divided.”