Florence prays for Charleston at vigil - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Florence prays for Charleston at vigil

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The distance between Charleston and Florence isn't stifling the Florence community's outpouring of support.

"The evil that was intended, we have to show that God can turn it for good," said Reverend Merritt Graves, of Mt. Zion AME Church.

After hearing about the shooting at its sister church, Emanuel AME Church, Mt. Zion AME Church decided to hold its own prayer vigil and invited the entire Florence community.

About 200 people filled the pews, aisles and hallway for the noon vigil Friday.

Various public figures such as the Florence police chief, the Florence County coroner, solicitor and sheriff as well as city and county council members and state representatives all attended.

There were 15 speakers including pastors from churches around Florence, Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela, State Representative Terry Alexander, Senator Hugh Leatherman's wife, Retired FSD1 Superintendent Dr. Allie E. Brooks Jr. and FMU President Dr. Fred Carter.

Some led prayers while others talked about hatred, grief and the need for unity, saying Friday's full church proved how diverse people can come together to support one another.

"This was a gathering that was representative of this community, representative of this state. Many of the speakers spoke to that fact," Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said. "And I think that perhaps is the biggest take away. And if we continue on that path, this community will be fine."

The prayer vigil also showed how despite a potential fear of attacks on churches, prayer will prevail and people will still find support and comfort in church, Reverend Graves said.

The Florence Police Department did complete a sweep of the premises prior to the vigil after hearing of a bomb threat during a vigil in Greenville Thursday. 

Mt. Zion AME Church has plans to get security cameras and beef up security personnel.

"You've got to teach people to be aware of what's going on around you as opposed to just because we're at the church, getting out of the car, coming out of the buildings at night, walking to the cars, those things will have to change," Reverend Graves said.

There will be a community forum, "Making Sense of Tragedy: A Dialogue with God and with each other" at Savannah Grove Baptist Church, 2620 Alligator Road in Effingham, at 3 p.m. Sunday. The forum is open to the greater Florence community. Call the church at 843-662-7851 for more information.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly