Williamsburg Church to Host Service Honoring Charleston Shooting Victims

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First Baptist Church is one of the oldest congregations in the City of Williamsburg, with history pre-dating the American Revolution. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)
First Baptist Church is one of the oldest congregations in the City of Williamsburg, with history pre-dating the American Revolution. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)

One week after a shooting in Charleston, S.C., claimed the lives of nine victims, the City of Williamsburg’s community of faith is coming together to honor their memories.

Williamsburg’s historic First Baptist Church is hosting a community prayer service to remember the nine victims of the June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof is accused of entering the historic black church in Charleston and killing nine people attending a prayer meeting.

The service is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today, and will be led by Rev. Juanita Graham, associate minister at First Baptist.

Graham said the event was initially planned as a small service for the church’s members, but had grown “exponentially” in the last few days.

“We announced it on Sunday,” Graham said. “We had just planned a little service, and thought maybe a few friends of our members would come, but I guess those friends told friends, and they told their friends, and they told their friends.”

Graham said several faith groups in Williamsburg had expressed interest in being part of the service. Rabbi David Katz, leader of Temple Beth El in Williamsburg, will be featured as a speaker at the service.

Graham said attendees at the service would be able to sign memorial booklets, which will be sent to Emanuel A.M.E. church and members of the victims’ families. Donations collected at the service would be sent to Emanuel A.M.E.

“We just wanted to let them know that the folks in Williamsburg are thinking about them,” Graham said.

First Baptist Church is one of the oldest church congregations in Williamsburg, with history dating back to the mid-18th century. The modern incarnation of the church was founded in 1863, and has been at its current location at 727 Scotland St. since 1956.

The church hosted Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on June 26, 1962, who addressed an integrated crowd on the country’s burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.

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