Troy church holds memorial service for Charleston church shooting victims

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The AME Zion Church in Troy held a memorial service on Monday for the victims of the Charleston church shooting.

Authorities say Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17. Police are calling the shooting a racially motivated hate crime.

The victims were attending Bible study that night. According to survivor reports, Roof was invited to join the group and was with them for an hour before the shooting.

Monday night, the AME Zion Church in Troy held a memorial service for the victims. They said they would continue to welcome everyone into their church as the nine victims of Emanuel AME.

The service brought together people of all races and denominations.

“Look around you,” the pastor said. “Look at the crowd that’s gathered here tonight. Young and old; black and white; Native American. Many different religious backgrounds and maybe some with none, and we’re all one family, aren’t we? We’re here together.”

Clergy of all faiths gathered on Monday to do what they said God would want them to do just as the nine victims did that Wednesday night.

“My sisters and brothers who welcomed that gentleman in was doing the will of God,” Minister Andre Smith said. “They was doing what they set out to do. We open the doors to everyone; every lost soul.”

They hoped keeping the church doors open would make a difference in the souls they say may be lost.

“When there’s a wound, one comes to help and heal, and that’s why I’m here,” attendee Alexandra Lusak said.

Lusak is also a former pastor. She said the Charleston tragedy has to be addressed in a way of faith and conversation.

“I think we have to talk about what happens to a young soul that gets so terribly twisted that it believes this is the solution,” she said. “I think we all have to go about that. I was just reading stuff from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the fact that this is a global problem. I think we need to reach out to each other and be community in a new way.”

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