West Tenn. pastor reacts to Charleston church shooting

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JACKSON, Tenn. — The heavy burden of the tragedy in Charleston, S.C., has been felt in congregations all over the country, including West Tennessee. Jackson’s only AME church held a vigil Thursday afternoon to mourn the tragedy and shed light on what they believe is a bigger issue. Charleston may be more than 600 miles away from West Tennessee, but that distance did not stop people from showing their support for those affected by the massacre. They said it was to show that hurt and hate affect us all. “Pain is pain regardless of what race you are,” Pastor Sabrina Transou said. Transou has been a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church all her life, but she said nothing has affected her congregation at New Greater Bethel AME as much as this. “To learn about that experience Wednesday night was haunting,” Transou said. “It was hurtful, but evil presence does not respect God.” Police say nine people were killed Wednesday night when 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, a massacre officials say they are investigating as a hate crime. “It is what it is,” Transou said. “We will have these hate crimes until man’s heart changes.” Transou believes with a race problem on the rise this is a time when barriers need to be broken. “Although my spirit is broken and I’m hurt, it just shows what love can do when a community can bind together and put away racial discrimination,” Transou said. And communities are coming together through prayer, holding vigils from Charleston to Jackson trying to show that unity is a powerful thing. “Because of prayer, the young man was caught,” Transou said. “Now my prayer is that his heart changes.” Although it will be hard to come to terms with the heinous act, Transou said we still must forgive. “I’m not here to judge him — I’m here to love him even through my pain, and that’s what I teach my people,” Transou said.

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