CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Sunday marked the first Easter since the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting. On Easter Sunday, its daughter church, Mount Zion AME had a special homecoming celebration to remember the Emanuel 9 and honor the survivors at the Sottile Theater.
"During this season, Christ being resurrected, we needed to also rise from a place of despair to a place of hope and so this was an opportunity to do that," says Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton, pastor of Mount Zion AME Church.
The keynote speaker was the late Senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney's wife, Jennifer Pinckney. Her husband was one of the nine shot and killed during bible study last June. She is one of the five survivors.
"I and my daughter... were in the pastor's office of the very adjoining room," Jennifer said during her address to the congregation.
She says God gives her strength each day.
"It's hard, everyone else has moved on with their lives, but it's just been very difficult. This is my soul mate, it's just I think about him everyday," she said.
"Her husband was my dearest friend," Rev. Middleton said.
At the service, Rev. Middleton introduced Mrs. Pinckney as a modern day Coretta Scott King and a champion of social justice and equality. In her keynote address she talked about how the time is now for everyone to unite. She continues the mission of her husband through a foundation she created in his name, The Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney Foundation.
"For people to come out and honor [and] to want to hear me, because I am not a speaker at all... I guess I'm the strong woman behind a good man, you know I was there to lift him up," Jennifer said.
Her two daughters performed a praise dance and recognition was given to the survivors and family members of the victims.
"Now it's time for us to heal ourselves, so that we might be able to be reconciled church to church," Middleton said. "So that we might then usher the community into a reconciliation."
Jennifer says the display of love that she's seen from so many people is overwhelming and she is thankful for the support.
"I'm praying everyday and I'm trying to fulfill his dream and to do what I think would make him smile down on me," she said.
Mt. Zion AME dedicated a portion of its courtyard with a plaque to honor the family and friends of the Emanuel AME Church family.