MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Pastor David Keaton says the massacre in South Carolina has been at the forefront of conversations inside Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

He says some members are using social media to vent and pray.

“Some of our members have already been putting information out, ideas of how we can help,” Keaton said.

He says he has been in contact with churches in Charleston.

“As we communicate more, get involved with the families, then we can determine exactly how we can be most impactful,” he said.

Pastor Keaton says the church community will respond. He hopes Saturday’s forum at his church will create a plan.

“I didn’t just want us to send money and then the involvement stops there,” Keaton said.

He is thinking of long-term involvement between people in South Carolina and Minneapolis.

“It’s a wake-up call right here to our own community for our churches to come together as believers, because this is not simply a hate crime. We’re labeling this ‘race’ and ‘hate,’ but we’ve got to get back to the existential reality [that] it’s evil,” he said.

Keaton says all believers must work together.

“As a church, the source of our strength and our solution to this has got to be the fight against evil,” Keaton said. “It is not about a race card, it is not about a hate crime for a particular group of people.”

Although there are concerns about security inside houses of worship, Keaton says eradicating evil must be by something other than meeting guns with guns.

“We cannot meet this tragedy with armed security,” Keaton said. “It deters us from who we are and what our mission is in this world.”

Keaton says he hopes to send a delegation to South Carolina to learn firsthand what is needed there to help.

Fellowship is holding a forum on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to pray and discuss how the faith community can better come together as one.

Reg Chapman