South Carolina Tragedy Inspires Unity Among Tulsa Community

Friday, June 19th 2015, 11:18 pm
By: News On 6

Thousands of people of all faiths gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to remember the nine lives lost when a gunman opened fire after a Wednesday night bible study.

Rabbi Stephanie Alexander said the same hatred that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama more than 50 years ago was responsible for the murders this week.

A pastor from North Carolina told victims' families to contact him if they needed anything, including a church for funeral services since theirs may be off limits during the police investigation.

Friday, the 21-year-old suspect appeared for the first time in a Charleston court. A judge set a $1 million bond for a firearms charge and allowed some of the victims' family members to address Dylan Roof.

Roof stared straight ahead as the family members spoke and didn't react to what they said.

The judge set the bond with the understanding that Roof will be held until his bond hearing on the murder charges.

The memorial outside Emanuel AME church in Charleston continues to grow as people from across the country stop to pay their respects.

Here in Tulsa a prayer vigil at Morning Star Baptist Church was held for the victims.

Even though all the victims were black and shot down in a historically black church, the suspects actions impacts everyone, shining a light on the need for people of all backgrounds to simply work on loving one another.

The service was about more than singing and praying, it was about being together regardless of whom you are or where you come from.

"Let us pray, but when we're done praying let us get to work to build America," one person said.

Over 1,000 miles separates vigil goers at Morning Star Baptist Church from the nine killed in Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel AME Church, but the deaths there impact people here.

"Hate won't win, we're not going anywhere. His goal was to start a race war, all he did was empower race relations, he didn't hurt us he strengthened us," said Morning Star pastor, Rodney Goss.

With such a deadly attack happening on hallowed ground, it shows that nowhere is necessarily safe, but Dr. Goss said this is a time to be cautious, not cowards, vigilant but not vigilantes.

"We still believe strongly in the principle that God will work things out, and that means there is no weapon formed against us that will prosper,” he said.

Goss said the colorful group of people coming together as humans in prayer and solidarity is what's needed to end years of continued violence.

Vigil goer, Kathy Peppito said, "Express my own support to the African-American community and it's not just African-Americans, it's all of us, it doesn't matter."

While the deadly actions of one shooter have changed the lives of so many, it's important that the tragedy is looked at as more than black and white.

"If we are ever going to have a land of liberty and justice for all we are going to have to work for it," one person said.

The shooting brought up the topic of gun control; Goss said each church should advise their parishioners on the need for weapons.

As for his church, he said he'll continue to believe that an eye for an eye isn't needed and will continue to have faith.