MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Charleston is more than 1,300 miles from the Twin Cities, but last week’s tragedy is still personal to some Minnesotans.

And some of them gathered Sunday at a local African Methodist Episcopal Church– St Peter’s, in South Minneapolis.

There have always been signs of remembrance at St. Peter’s AME church. But on this Sunday they memorialized nine people they never actually knew. A large poster sat by the altar with photos of the Charleston shooting victims.

It was supposed to be a sermon on Father’s Day, but plans changed for the worst of reasons.

From the pulpit, the Rev. Nazim Fakir said, “Then pure evil showed up at Bible study and turned their lives to past tense and our lives to turmoil.”

The lead pastor said that since Wednesday, people from all around the cities have reached out.

“The gunman wanted a race riot, but what he got was unity, across denominations, across faith traditions,” Fakir said. “The people of this country, and this world, are coming and standing together.”

A list of elected officials showed up and stood up in support.

Marcia Zimmerman, a south Minneapolis rabbi at Temple Israel, also showed up and chimed in on the discussion.

“Having inner faith dialogue is the antidote to violence,” she said.

Gov. Mark Dayton was among a list of elected officials who also showed up in support.

“We can’t bring those people and yet we have to carry on and do our best to lift the human race higher,” Dayton said. “I just think people put their bodies forward and hold hands with people from different backgrounds and races and beliefs.”

And on this day in Minneapolis, that’s exactly what they did.

The church’s pastor said this Wednesday night, to mark one week since the Charleston shootings, they will host a vigil in conjunction with other faith groups.  It is open to everyone.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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