Austin A.M.E. churches in shock over Charleston church massacre
Churches and their congregations in Austin are reacting to the tragedy Charleston. One north Austin AME church called parishioners together to hold a prayer service for the victims Thursday afternoon.
With hands folded together, and heads bowed, congregants at Grant AME Worship Center in Austin rely on their faith in the wake of tragedy in South Carolina.
"There's definitely a prevailing theme of hate to go into a church during prayer meeting, to sit down and act like you're a part of the prayer meeting, and then begin to shoot and to kill people. I believe it's an all-out assault on the church," said Pastor Sylvester Delaney Patton III, Pastor, Grant AME Worship Center.
The massacre happened at the Emanuel AME Church, a church with historic African-American roots in Charleston. Police say the suspect, 21-year old Dylann Roof opened fire, killing 9 people. Pastor Patton believes this event is a call for action.
"This really opened my eyes to what can happen, security, you must have security in the church," said Patton.
Pastor Jordan Mkwanazi of Metropolitan AME Church knew one of the victims Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
He and I served in different committees together in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was just an amazing brother, kind, wonderful man of god.
Although the tragedy happened all the way across the country, it continues to touch lives of many here in Austin.
"It is a despicable act that none of us would have ever imagined," said Mkwanazi.
Many appalled that what was supposed to be a house of god, a place of refuge and acceptance, became a house of terror.
"It is unfathomable. We are all actually literally shocked," said Mkwanazi.
Parishioners gathered in a circle, with the victims on their minds.
"We're going to see to the families financially, whatever we can do for the families," said Patton.
If there were one thing he could say to the suspect right now, Patton said he would pray for him and the lives he impacted.
Mkwanazi says there are bishops from all over the country, already in South Carolina, ready to help mend broken hearts, and ensure justice will be served.
There will be a prayer service at Metropolitan AME Church Friday at Noon.