Prayers for Charleston

Oberlin councilman Ronnie Rimbert lights a candle for Ethel Lee Lance.

John Cannon prepares to light a candle for 87-year-old Susie Jackson.

The Rev. Steve Hammond of Peace Community Church blesses the donated funds.

A woman volunteers to light the 10th candle for victims across the nation.

A candle is lit for 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders.

A candle is lit in memory of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

Community members gather to walk to the front of the room to donate money for families in South Carolina.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Pastor A. G. Miller of the Oberlin House of the Lord Fellowship helps a child light the first candle in remembrance of the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.

Prayers for the nine people gunned down June 17 in Charleston, S.C., were offered last Wednesday as Oberlin congregations gathered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

The faithful asked for comfort and peace for the families of those murdered by 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who opened fire at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“We wanted to do something in this community that would bring people together,” said pastor A. G. Miller of the Oberlin House of the Lord Fellowship. “We wanted to come together for a time of both silent and corporate prayer.”

The chilling violence in a house of worship struck a chord with believers and non-believers alike all across the United States.

“One week ago tonight these people were massacred and what a tribute to be able to honor their lives, to have a time of prayer, and to raise funds in support of them,” Miller said.

Ten local residents volunteered to light nine candles for the lives lost and a large candle for victims everywhere.

People jumped to their feet to light the candles and pay tribute to senior pastor Clementa Pinckney, 41; assistant pastor Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Myra Thompson, 59; Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49.

“We don’t want to forget that this is not a single incident but these kind of incidents are happening all to often throughout our country and throughout our world,” Miller said. “We come to love, to pray, and to act.”

After the candlelight vigil, residents sat in silence for roughly 30 minutes praying for the victims, their families, and for God’s guidance through this tragedy.

At the end of the memorial, nearly every community member walked to the front of the room to donate money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund or the Lowcountry Ministries – Rev. Pinckney Fund.

Roof faces nine counts of murder in the South Carolina state court and could be sentenced to death.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.