NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Hundreds from the community came together to honor the life of Ethel Lance Thursday morning at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston.
"She was always there," fellow Emanuel AME Church member Reba Martin said of Lance. "She was always there. She was a soldier."
A mother, and grandmother, Lance also served the church, as a custodian at Emanuel, and a longtime member.
"She was the first one in, the first one out," Martin said.
"It goes right back to what God is all about," the Rev. Keith A. Parker said. "Jesus is love, and love is being shown here today."
There was an outpouring of love as friends and family gathered to say goodbye. Among the crowd of hundreds included Representative Mark Sanford, and civil rights leaders Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Many others didn't know Lance, but were eager to prove the tragic shooting would not succeed in dividing the city..
"This has touched everyone in Charleston," said Kat Garvin, who came to show support.
Through Facebook, Garvin and nearly three thousand others committed to forming a human wall at each of the nine funeral services, shielding the victims' families from anyone looking to disrupt the service. She said supporters drove from North Carolina, and Florence, SC, among other cities.
"We'll sing if we need to drown out any noise they're making," Garvin said. "We just want to be a presence, and want to be a support."
"It's just an outpouring of love showing that people still care," rev. Parker added. "Many people that are here are not even relatives, but came to support just because of the situation."