CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Just a block away from where the Calhoun Monument stood, a prayer service had been planned at Mother Emanuel AME Church Wednesday night.
The service was supposed to be held on the steps outside the church, but when rain and lightning moved in, organizers moved out and around the corner.
The whole event was designed to bring community members together regardless of faith for healing, remembrance and, of course, prayer. It seemed only fitting a change in venue to a different, but friendly church, would be required to deal with the weather.
A crowd of about 50 people piled in to the Citadel Square Baptist Church just around the corner from Mother Emanuel. Faith leaders of different churches brought together by Mission Charleston took turns leading the congregation in prayer and song.
One of those leaders was Will Plonk. He is the lead pastor at Grace City Church and the president of And Campaign CHS.
“The goal of tonight was to really provide a space for people to gather and to cry out to God to move in this city around righting inequities, advocating for justice,” Plonk said.
Much of the prayer was dedicated to the nine people killed in the Mother Emanuel shooting five years ago.
“We lamented,” Plonk said. “We really mourned the history of our city, specifically the deaths of the Emanuel Nine and the systematic racism. We remembered what God has done and we cry out for what he will do.”
Tyler Reese and Erica Hughes attended both as volunteers and worshipers.
“I felt relieved. I felt replenished. I felt part of a community that I didn’t know previously existed,” Reese said.
A major theme of the evening centered around unifying as a community.
Hughes said it is amazing to see such unity.
“Like no matter where we are in Charleston, we are not individuals but we are one united church,” he said.