SAVANNAH, GA (WSAV) – The shooting shocked the world. Nine souls, ranging in age from 41 to 87, murdered by a self-proclaimed white supremacist inside the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the south.
“He was befriended. Those who survived say he even seemed to have even enjoyed the bible study, but he had all intentions of doing what he’d done.”
Pastor Bernard Clarke of Savannah’s St. Philip Monumental AME Church says the loss has devastating. Among the victims was Pastor Clementa Pinckney, a well known man of faith with deep roots in the Lowcountry, including 15 years as a State Senator. Pastor Clark says the best way to honor Senator Pinckney, and the 8 others killed, is to remember them. “What happened at Mother Emanual will never be forgotten. We just cannot afford to allow certain things to continue on.”
St. Philip Monumental AME Church held a special service the Sunday after the shooting, inviting in members of other faiths. Pastor Clarke says the massacre reshaped the way many churches function, both local and nationwide. “It changed the way we worship in that we do have people that are trained now to monitor those that are coming in the door… we have only one entrance now.” Clarke says some members are even armed during service, providing an added layer of comfort, especially now, as racial tensions bring back familiar fears.
“Because of the climate we see now. It is ruthless, to say the least, in that you’ll have individuals that have no conscience of another person’s life.”