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Courtesy photo Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. where the nine shooting deaths occurred on June 17, 2015

By Portia Williams

[email protected]

In light of the recent tragedy of the shooting deaths of nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C., Allen Chapel AME, 1149 12th St., in Portsmouth, will hold a prayer vigil on Sunday, June 28, at 4 p.m.

According to reports, on June 17, 2015, nine shooting deaths took place at Emanuel African AME Church, the oldest AME Church known at ‘Mother Emmanuel,’ in Charleston, S,C. Nine people were shot and killed, including the senior pastor of the church, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Dylann Roof, 21, of South Carolina, has been charged with the murder of the nine victims.

Reverend Margaret Tyson, the pastor of Allen Chapel AME, said hearing of the tragedy which occurred at Emmanuel AME was devastating.

“When I learned of what happened I was devastated. I knew Reverend Pinckney, he was a friend of my brother,” Tyson said. “I feel like it is an awful thing, but it has brought the institutional, systematic racism right to the forefront of conversation, and people are looking at each in different ways. One thing that has come out of this is forgiveness. If you love the Lord, then you have to forgive. You don’t have to forget, but you have to forgive.”

She said they are calling the prayer vigil a service of celebration and reconciliation.

“We are having a prayer vigil honor the lives of the nine persons who lost their lives in Charleston, South Carolina,” she said. “We are calling it a service of celebration and reconciliation. We have to come together and face what is actually going on in the world.”

Tyson has invited a host of local pastors and ministerial organizations to attend the prayer vigil, and to offer a series of brief prayers, and is inviting the community to come out to the prayer vigil as well.

“I will be conducting it, but I am inviting others to come and to offer prayer for the families of the people who died, for Portsmouth, for churches everywhere,” she said. “I would like for it to be no more than an hour, there is not going to be a sermon, just some introductory words, some prayer, then we will have a benediction and then we will go out will little tea candles,” she said.

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.