RELIGION

AME Church Clergy Gathering For Prayer Service In Wake Of Shooting

06/18/2015 10:42 am ET | Updated Jun 18, 2015

The day after a deadly shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the people of the city came together to worship and pray.

Faith leaders and community members crowded into four South Carolina AME churches on Thursday, in the cities of Charleston, Sumter, Columbia and Greenville.

They came to mourn the nine people who were shot and killed Wednesday night while attending a Bible study meeting at Emanuel, a historic black church. The suspected shooter, a 21-year-old white man named Dylann Roof, was captured by police on Thursday.

Bishop John R. Bryant, who currently serves as the leader of the global AME church, called on the country to join the denomination in prayer.

“An act like this is an attack on all that we as a nation are supposed to stand for,” Bryant told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “So we’re asking that the whole church and the community of justice and peace would join us in prayer for the families and for the city of Charleston.”

The pews were filled at Charleston's Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church, a sister church to Emanuel. Outside, the voices of hundreds of supporters joined together in old Christian hymns that have for decades had resonance for black churches in America: “Amazing Grace,” “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light Of Mine.”

Elder James Johnson, president of Charleston’s chapter of the National Action Network, told HuffPost before the event that he planned to attend the Morris Brown service. Recalling Emanuel’s status as one of the largest and oldest black congregations in the South, Johnson said it will be hard for Charleston to overcome Wednesday's tragedy.

“That church is an icon in the community. It’s very sad,” he said. “It will never be the same again... We have to put together a plan of healing.”

In particular, Bryant asked for supporters to begin with themselves -- to ask how individuals can work to be more loving and peaceful.

“As we pray for peace in our country, [let us pray] that it would begin with us, and then spread out to my community, my city, my state, my country,” he said Thursday.

Across the nation, faith leaders took up the call by organizing vigils of their own.

Here are just some of the vigils scheduled for this week. Let us know in the comments if you'll be attending one in your own community.

California
Irvine: Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Poway: St. Michael’s Catholic Church Young Adults, Rosary on Thursday at 8 p.m.

Colorado
Denver: Shorter Community AME Church, Thursday at 9 p.m., and House for All Sinners and Saints, Thursday at 7 p.m.

Florida
Titusville: St. James AME Church, Thursday at 7 p.m.

Georgia
Atlanta: Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Kennesaw: Kennesaw State University, Friday at 8 p.m.

Kansas
Topeka: St. John AME Church, Friday at 6 p.m.

Massachusetts
Boston: Dinner Church, Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

New York City
Brooklyn: St. Lydia’s, Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Union Square: Multiple faith groups, Thursday at 6 p.m.
Harlem: Abyssinian Baptist Church, Thursday at 7 p.m.

North Carolina
Shelby: The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Thursday at 7 p.m.

South Carolina
Charleston: St. Andrews Parish United Methodist Church, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Summerville: First Fruits Community Church, Thursday at 7 p.m.

Texas
Fort Worth: First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist, Thursday at 7 p.m.

Washington, D.C.
Foundry United Methodist Church, Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Wade Spees / The Post And Courier / AP
    A man kneels across the street from where police gather outside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church following the shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of the shooting. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church, killing multiple people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A distraught man is comforted as a group of concerned people arrive inquiring about the shooting.
  • Matthew Fortner / The Post And Courier / AP
    Charleston police officers search for a shooting suspect outside the Emanuel AME Church.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle early Thursday, June 18, 2015, down the street from Emanuel following the shooting.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the scene of the attack.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Worshippers gather to pray down the street from the Emanuel church.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the church.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Charleston Emergency Management Director Mark Wilbert on Thursday holds a flier that was distributed to media with surveillance footage of a suspect wanted in connection with the shooting. (Photo: David Goldman)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, South Carolina, holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday. (Photo: David Goldman)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the church. (Photo: David Goldman)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police officer uses a flashlight while searching the area. (Photo: David Goldman)
  • Grace Beahm / The Post and Courier / AP
    Rev. Sandy Drayton sheds a tear during a prayer vigil held at Morris Brown AME Church for the victims of Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church on Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Parishioners listen during a memorial service at Morris Brown AME Church for the nine people killed Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A parishioner prays during a memorial service at Morris Brown AME Church for the people killed Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Police arrested 21-year-old suspect Dylann Storm Roof Thursday in Shelby, N.C. without resistance. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Natasha Wright speaks to her two daughters, Thursday, June 18, 2015 at a make-shift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor, at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in downtown Charleston. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, center right, joins hands with Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., right, at a memorial service at Morris Brown AME Church for the people killed Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.
  • BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images
    People sit on the steps of Morris Brown AME Church while services are held June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions.
  • BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images
    A South Carolina State Trooper walks past as people gather for a vigil while services are held at Morris Brown AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Charleston police Lt. S. Siprko removes flowers from the backseat of a patrol car, Thursday, June 18, 2015 to a makeshift memorial in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. T
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) gets emtional as he sits next to the draped desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed, Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A group of women pray together at a make-shift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church, Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Tyler Francis, right, hugs Shondrey Dear after praying together, Thursday, June 18, 2015 at a make-shift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured without resistance in North Carolina Thursday after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief Greg Mullen said.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Sheby Police Department in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Sheby Police Department in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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