NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Family, friends and more packed Mount Moriah Baptist Church in North Charleston to say goodbye to the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, one of nine victims of a June 17 Charleston church shooting.
It was very powerful and emotional not only during the service, but for the viewing that happened earlier Thursday as well. While many were overcome with sadness, there was a feeling of hope, peace, and celebration for Singleton.
"We're doing what Sharonda would have wanted us to do, which is celebrate her life," Cedric Miller, the husband to one of Singleton's best friends, said. "She was a beautiful person, and she's going to be truly missed by the three of them, by so many people, but especially the three of them."
As expected, the family was escorted to the church by law enforcement.
They were seated in the front near Singleton's casket where she was dressed in a white robe with an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority stole.
"She was just a ray of light," Star Miller, one of Singleton's best friends, said. "She loved the Lord. She died serving the Lord. That I take comfort in, and I'm just going to miss her."
Friends and family describe her as a hard working woman of God, but beyond that, some who was always running in the right direction.
"Her race may be over on earth, but her race will continue in heaven," a close friend of Singleton's from her years on the South Carolina State track team, said.
"Sharonda had a spirit that would reach the world," Star Miller said. "She was just that special and everybody who knew her knew it, and even the people who didn't know her, knows how special she is."
Singleton's family, friends, and coworkers filled pews of the church, along with her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters.
The ladies held an "Ivy Beyond the Wall Service" to begin the afternoon, a private ceremonial service when a sister dies.
The formal funeral service followed after, presided over by Reverend Norvel Goff. Many people who spoke focused on the celebration of Singleton's life as a mother, a track coach, a teacher and her dedication to serving God.
"We just have to pray to God, and keep on going," Eva Howard, who came to support Singleton's family, said. "I lived in the area she was in, and what she's done, and why she was here, she would want us to just trust God. I pray that God will give us strength and keep on going."
"Since I knew her she would always believe in you, before you would believe in yourself," Taytiana Jackson, a former athlete of Singleton's, said. "She was just that kind of woman."
Many people echoing those same sentiments, some of them who didn't know her, but have been moved by the stories they've heard about her.
"I didn't know her," Governor Nikki Haley said. "But I feel like I know her now."
The Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attended the funeral and sat at the altar during the service.
Sen. Tim Scott, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey also paid their respects by attending the funeral Thursday.
"On Sharonda's last day she left home, and went to church, to pray and study the bible, and then she went to heaven," Mayor Riley said, getting a round of applause from those at the service.
"She was like a mom, so this is kind of like losing my mom, but I can't even imagine what they're feeling," Jackson said.
Several members of Mother Emanuel AME Church who were also present received a standing ovation.
After the service, people walked out of the church displaying a range of emotions.
Some were crying, some had their heads bowed, and some walked out appearing to be at peace.
"She's at peace, thank God she's at peace," Matrice Burton, who has known the family for a long time, said.
Singleton was buried privately surrounded by her family.