CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Saturday marked two years since the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting that claimed the lives of nine parishioners.
Dignitaries along with family members of the victims and survivors came together for the Ecumenical Worship Service at the Gaillard Center.
The speaker for the event, Reverend Dr. Joel C. Gregory is the Chair in Preaching and Evangelism at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University.
"On this day pain and hope and treachery and triumph, awful and awesome come together," Gregory said.
The grandson of one of the Emanuel 9, Brandon Risher says the anniversary brings a mix of emotions. His grandmother was Ethel Lance.
"Slowly each day we get a little bit better, certain situations like this anniversary conjures up feeling about the night," Risher said.
The night nine people were shot and killed in Bible study.
"I still have her birthday message from 2015 her telling me how proud she was of me," Risher said.
Today's message was hate won't win.
Katie Dahlheim lives in Charleston and came out to the service.
"I think as Charlestonians it's important for us to come out to events like this so that we always remember the things that happen here," Dahlheim said.
She says she was moved by the forgiveness of the families.
"There's so many people here who are on vacation and they have no idea what this week means to those of us who live here and remember and all the families and all the church members and all the first responders and the court personnel, everyone who had been touched by this," Dahlheim said.
Clergy and choirs from across the community came together for the Ecumenical Service, praising the Lord for his grace and good works, while still in the midst of the pain.
Former Mayor Joe Riley recalls the day after the shooting.
"White people and black people hugging each other, praying together, wiping each other's tears, loving tears, loving each other and that went throughout our community," Riley said.
The church invites the community to attend their Sunday morning worship service starting at 9:30 a.m. The church is located at 110 Calhoun Street.
"It's also wonderful to see that people share this grief and want to be able to acknowledge and celebrate the lives of the nine victims and the survivors," Risher said. "So again from a personal matter it's something you would love to do on your own, but the enormity of what happened is not lost on me and family so we are very appreciative of of all the things people do to celebrate."