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Church bells ring in Raleigh, nationwide after Charleston shootings

Posted June 21, 2015

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— Church bells in Raleigh and across the country tolled for one purpose on Sunday.

At Christ Episcopal Church on East Edenton Street, they rang for 45 minutes.

“It is our hope that these collective prayers might offer a measure of strength, comfort and peace in the midst of this tragedy,” the church said in a statement.

The names of those killed were read during services at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church on West Edenton Street.

“I can’t go to Charleston, so I feel like at least I can come here with the Methodist AME Church,” said parishioner Miriam Thomas.

In Charleston, S.C., bells rang across the city four days after nine people were killed during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, participated in the Bible study for about an hour before allegedly making racially offensive remarks, then opening fire. He was apprehended in Shelby on Thursday.

"It looked like it was something that could destroy your church, but it's not gonna destroy it at all," Emanuel parishioner General Little said. "I can just feel it. We're gonna grow from this."

Sorrow was replaced by singing and praise on Sunday as every seat inside the nearly 200-year-old historic church, containing the oldest African-American congregation south of Baltimore, were filled.

“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,” said Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff Sr., a presiding elder of the 7th District AME Church in South Carolina.

Goff was appointed as Emanuel's interim pastor. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's senior pastor and a state senator, was among those killed.

Francis Kioko and his two young daughters drove from Raleigh to be apart of Emanuel's Sunday services.

"We came here just because we felt we must be here with everybody else to show our solidarity and support," said Kioko, who while holding a small bamboo cross, stood outside the church due to the building being filled to capacity. "I think it's very powerful and I think it's very important for everybody to be together and just do what you have to do to be a part of this."

Kioko's 11-year-old daughter, Angela, believes Sunday services are part of the healing process.

"It makes me happy to see all this worshipping, and I think God will help us solve all these problems that are going on," she said.

Making it to church on Sunday was emotionally difficult for Mildred Grant.

“I come anyway. Because this is my church. I was born and raised in this church,” the 90-year-old said.

Thousands are expected Sunday evening to hold hands and form a unity chain stretching from Charleston to Mount Pleasant, 10 miles away, across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

During services at St. Paul’s, Bishop Adam J. Richardson read a litany that, in part, declared “the doors of the church are still open.”

“The evil one wanted a race war, instead there came an outpouring of love, sympathy and tears from white people and people of every race, and fervent prayers offered for him by black people,” he said. “We have learned at least this much on our walk with God in Christ – ‘Unmerited suffering is still redemptive.’”

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