Just three and a half days after nine members of their church family were gunned down in Bible study, parishioners of the Emanuel AME Church of Charleston gathered under the already hot sun Sunday to reenter their tarnished Citadel of God.
“I am here to serve my God and my church,” said Thomas Rose, 66, waiting to walk inside past the downstairs room where 9 parishioners died. “They were all my family,” he said.
Rose said he grew up in the church as had generations of his family before him. He ordinarily would have been there for Bible study Wednesday night, he said, but his wife took him to pray at a sister church instead.
While parishioners gathered in a parking lot behind the church, visitors stood in front hoping to take part in one of the most dramatic moments in church history.
Tycely Williams, 40, flew down from Washington, D.C. in hopes of attending the prayers of mourning and forgiveness.