Charleston church congregation shows unity after Texas shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Rev. Eric Manning of Mother Emanuel AME Church says he knows all too well the pain the families and victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at a Texas church are feeling.

“Our hearts go out to the congregations in Texas and we offer our sincere condolences,” said Manning. “Mother Emanuel is hurting because once again evil has come into the house of God and has disrupted an entire community.”

There have been several mass shootings across the country since a gunman opened fire on the nine people shot and killed while they took part in a bible study group in the historic Charleston church in June 2015. Churchgoers and families connected to the Mother Emanuel shooting have grown all too familiar with the cycle of gun violence and are almost considered experts on dealing with personal tragedy.

Manning says this role is a responsibility people in the Charleston community know well.

“When it happens the first time, you say, ‘I can’t believe it happened.’ And then it happens again,” he explained. “It’s hard to process and you never think it will happen again.”

When Manning heard about the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, which killed at least 26 churchgoers, he knew what he needed to do — pray and comfort those who are hurting

“Evil comes in and commits a heinous act,” he said. “They are not alone. We will be here for them and will continue to be here for them and to pray for them.”

Melvin Graham, whose sister Cynthia Graham Hurd died in the 2015 Mother Emanuel shooting, said the recent tragedy is a springboard to address gun violence legislation. He said the Texas shooting prompted him to relive the night his sister and other parishioners died and it should cause lawmakers to make meaningful changes.

“Stand up and do something,” said Graham. “I am so tired of hearing ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you,’ and then they do nothing.”

He said those families connected to the Texas shooting are dealing with unimaginable grief, and for him, it was all too reminiscent of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church massacre.

“It’s a replay of what happened on that particular night. It’s feeling all those emotions all over again. It’s connecting in Texas, knowing what they are going through,” said Graham said.

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