Just days after nine people attending a Bible study were murdered by racist shooter Dylann Roof, churchgoers returned to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for a Sunday morning service. The pastor of the historic black church was among the victims. During the service, Rev. Norvel Goff told the congregation, “The doors of the church are open. No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church … It’s by faith that we are standing here and sitting here. It has been tough. It has been rough. Some of us have been downright angry. But through it all God has sustained us.” He echoed Isaiah 54:17 adding, “Some wanted to divide the race—black and white and brown—but no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”

During a bond hearing last week, family members of the victims addressed Roof, telling them that they forgave him for his actions. During the service, Goff called for justice and said that they will “hold our elected officials accountable to do the right thing.” But he also said, “I’m reminded of some news media persons that wondered why the nine families all spoke of forgiveness and didn’t have malice in their heart. It’s that the nine families got it.” He said they understood what it means to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves” …

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