Churchgoers packed into the newly reopened Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by the hundreds Sunday. The church had been closed since Wednesday when the house of worship was rocked by tragedy.
Emanuel AME Church was devastated last week when a madman killed nine church members during a Wednesday Bible study. The gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has been arrested and charged with nine counts of murder. Among the nine church members that were killed was the head pastor of the church, along with six women and two other men.
"A lot of folks expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot. Well, they just don't know us,"The Rev. Norvel Goff Sr. told the crowd that had gathered at the church that the best response to the horrific event was to keep going.
"I want you to know, because the doors of Mother Emanuel is open on this Sunday, it sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth,"The message Sunday was one of love, forgiveness, and perseverance. Congregants of the church have even expressed their forgiveness to Dylann Roof, who has said he hoped his actions would cause a race war. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Roof is a white supremacist who has been pictured with patches representing apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia as well as Confederate flags.
The accused killer's manifesto has been found online. He expressed his racist hatred and intolerance in the 2,000-word manifesto that was posted on the internet by Roof. In the hate-filled ramblings, Roof says that he chose to target Charleston, S.C. because of its historical significance.
Roof allegedly sat in the Bible study for around an hour before opening fire on the congregation. According to NBC, the madman reportedly told law enforcement that he almost didn't go through with his plan because everyone at the church was so nice to him.
Families of the victims were allowed to address Dylann Roof during his bond hearing. The devastated families expressed their sorrow in the loss of their family members, but some of them also told Roof that they forgave him.
As The New York Times reported, Emanuel AME Church has a history of tragedies. When the church was planning a slave revolt, its founder and many other church members were executed. The church has also been burnt down by an angry mob, and even had to endure laws barring African-Americans from worshiping.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]