Bethlehem-Wiley hosts vigil to honor Charleston shooting victims

Bethlehem-Wiley hosts vigil to honor Charleston shooting victims

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 24, 2015) -- Bethlehem-Wiley United Methodist Church hosted a prayer vigil on June 24, widely covered by the Chattanooga media. 



Chattanooga Times Free Press
Prayers for peace: Dozens gather at Chattanooga church to honor Charleston shooting victims

Lawanda Prater sat on an old wooden pew Wednesday night thinking about how similar her church is to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people were gunned down in a prayer service last week.

"The windows and pews I see in pictures of that church where those people were shot remind me of here," she said as she sat with one arm on the edge of the pew. "They even have similar carvings on their pews like these here. I felt compelled to come and pray for them tonight."

Prater was one of more than 50 people gathered at the historic Bethlehem-Wiley United Methodist Church in downtown Chattanooga to remember the lives taken a week ago at Emanuel. Prayers for peace, comfort and racial reconciliation echoed from the high wooden ceilings of the sanctuary, as light from the setting sun softly streamed through the stained glass windows.

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Vigil remembers victims of Charleston church shooting

Clouds cover the sky outside Bethlehem-Wiley United Methodist Church but that doesn't keep light from shining through the stained glass inside as folks gather inside. 

It's been one week since a gunman opened fire inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The nine victim's families and community have responded with love.

“We don't close our doors just because tragedy strikes us,” Saints Peter and Paul Basilica Pastor David Carter said.

Carter says it's an example for Christians across the nation of how to forgive.

“This church, that has been so effected by an act of hatred, has responded with love. That love is the answer, that forgiveness and mercy are trying to overcome hatred with true love,” he added.

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