Horry County residents find peace in the pews in wake of Charleston tragedy

One week after nine people were killed inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, close to a hundred people filled Bethel AME Church in Conway to remember the lives lost.

"It has affected us directly and indirectly, and I think our whole congregation has been moved by the incident," said Reverend Charles Pee of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Conway and friend of Senator Clementa Pinckney's family.

The vigil hit home for Pee, who is from Sen. Pinckney's home town, and Pastor J.C. Roberts of Bethel AME, who knew many of the victims through church work.

"He was a real leader, yet he was humble, a real leader of people and as a pastor," Pee remembered of Pinckney.

"You missed a voice towering, roaring like a lion, very articulate," Roberts added of Pinckney. "Dan Simmons was a beautiful personality, a wonderful person," recalled Roberts of Reverend Daniel Simmons. "They all were beacons of peace, hope, love, and if you never got the opportunity to really talk and be with those persons, you've missed a treat. You can't be the same anymore after knowing them."

While the Emanuel Nine may be gone, the men and women who filled the pews of Bethel AME Wednesday night know they will not be forgotten.

"No, no, no, they can't be forgotten," said Roberts. "The contributions they have made to the state of South Carolina, the communities where they lived, their friends and their families, they cannot be forgotten."

"I've been referring to them as prayer warriors," explained Pee. "They were in the right place at the right time, and they were brutally murdered."

Out of tragedy though, rises hope.

"I watched the people at Emanuel in Charleston on Sunday, and they were singing, and they were rejoicing even in the midst of tragedy," said Pee. "We're going to make it. It's just going to take a little time. It's going to make some more tears, but we're going to make it."

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