Bible study, Senior luncheon, and birthday celebration held in honor of Emanuel victims

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A widower of a Mother Emanuel AME shooting victim led Bible study for the second year in a row commemorating the anniversary of the tragedy at the historic church.

Reverend Anthony Thompson, the husband of Myra Thompson, co-led the Wednesday night Bible study with current pastor Reverend Eric Manning.

Myra Thompson was leading Bible study June 17, 2015 when Dylann Roof opened fire on several men, women, and children in attendance.

Wednesday several "Light of Hope" commemorative events were held to honor the victims and survivors in the tragedy.

One of Ethel Lance's favorite songs, "One Day At A Time", rang out in the ballroom of the Francis Marion Hotel.

Senior citizens of Mother Emanuel along with family members of the victims of the tragedy were recognized Wednesday afternoon during a luncheon.

"I kind of miss my mom during this time," said Esther Lance, Ethel Lance's daughter.

Lance held back tears while speaking about her mother. She told others in the crowd she knows her mom would have wanted her to move forward, one day at a time.

"Her special touch, and what she did was different," said Ellenora Jackson, a relative of Susie Jackson. "It was very unique."

A family member of Susie Jackson remarked on the kind of person the matriarch was to people.

"She did giving - she didn't do any taking," Jackson said. "She was a giver, even if her giving was advice."

Jackson and Lance were members of the church's senior citizens group. Jackson served as a trustee and an usher, while also singing for many years in the adult choir.

Lance was a lifelong member of Emanuel AME Church. She took pride working as a custodian and helping keep its facilities clean.

Jennifer Pinckney, the widow of former Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was the guest speaker at the luncheon.

Pinckney spoke about her husband's love for seniors.

"He was reverent, he was gentle, he was respected and was respectful," she said. "He valued the opinion of our seniors."

Pinckney recalled several times where Clementa would run down the stairs to the first level of Mother Emanuel where the seniors would watch the service on a television screen because of the lack of an elevator.

"He would shake their hands, greet them, serve them," she said. "He wanted to make sure they received service in person."

Meanwhile, another event Wednesday honored the life of Cynthia Graham-Hurd, and her work in the Charleston County Public Library System.

Her siblings, friends, and others were also there to celebrate what would have been her 57th birthday.

"Literacy and education, she understood that was the foundation for moving ahead," said Malcolm Graham, Cynthia's brother. "She loved working and serving the citizens of Charleston County by being a librarian."

Graham's family created a foundation to help continue her legacy.

Wednesday books were handed out to young kids to keep them reading during the summer.

While Graham said this time of year is never easy, they are focused on the future.

"We're cautiously optimistic that we're taking a step forward," he said. "We talk about how she lived, versus how she died, that's why we're so excited to be here today celebrating."

In July the foundation along with several partners will kick off the second annual book drive at Charleston County Public Libraries.

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