Hundreds gather at Mother Bethel AME Church to remember Charleston victims

SOCIETY HILL (WPVI) -- Hundreds of people of many faiths gathered at Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia's Society Hill section for a prayerful service remembering the nine people fatally shot at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

They sang songs of praise and offered prayers of solace, seeking comfort in the wake of the massacre.

"We're here tonight as a grieving community fighting and struggling to keep our faith," said Rev. Mark Tyler, Mother Bethel AME Church.

Rev. Tyler was joined by people of various faiths in condemning the violence.

One Jewish leader said today we mourn together because terror is terror, hate is hate.

A number of religious leaders implored those gathered together that we must unite against such hatred.

"And if we don't say that now, we're gonna let the terrorists win and I'm not gonna let the terrorists win and I know you're not gonna let them win," said Rev. Gregory Holston, New Vision United Methodist.

Rabbi Shawn Zevit of Mishkan Shalom sang Psalm 23 in Hebrew. Part of the passage says, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil."

Many felt the shooting on Wednesday night was an act of terrorism.

"He must be sick to come into a church and sit down and then say to someone, 'I'm gonna let you live so you can tell the story' - he's sick," said Rev. Pamela Fletcher, Bethel Germantown.

"We are just so touched by this, I mean it's devastating," said Marie Butler, Campbell AME Church.

"Basically, as a historian, it just makes me really sad to know that we're here 50 years later and we're still fighting the same fight for social justice," said Rachel Martin.

One minister told those gathered that the time for rhetoric is over, the time to act is now.

"Let us leave here with our intention & determination to bring peace & forgiveness in a winning cause," said Jocelyn K. Hart, Presiding Elder District 18 AME Congregation.

In the end, Rev. Tyler was moved the people from various faiths reached out and said, 'Because you hurt, we hurt, this is Philadelphia and if anyone apart of our city hurts, we all hurt.'
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