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People of different races hold hands as they gather on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. C., on June 21, 2015, after the first service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since a mass shooting left nine people dead. (RNS) A few weeks after a young white gunman killed nine people at a Bible study in a black church here, another young white man walked into a Bible study at another black South Carolina church.Hundreds of people packed the sweltering church for an emotional memorial service just days after a gunman, identified by authorities as Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, shot dead nine black church members. This young man did not seem to understand why his unexpected presence at Campbell Chapel, 100 miles away in the coastal town of Bluffton, unnerved the regulars that Wednesday evening, the traditional time for Bible study in African Methodist Episcopal churches.It was as if he had not felt the shock waves of the crime that unsettled the nation.The young man’s awkward body language, disapproving sighs and eye-rolling only made the congregants more nervous as they tried to focus on Scripture.The litany that AME church leaders had asked its pastors to share with their congregations the Sunday after the Charleston massacre was titled “Our Doors Are Open.” “So how do you do that on Sunday morning and close them on Wednesday night?
On June 17 in Charleston, Roof had sat and listened for nearly an hour as a group of 12 studied a passage from the Gospel of Mark.
Then, authorities say, he opened fire with a gun he received as a present for his 21st birthday. Clementa Pinckney, slain at Emanuel, had once pastored Campbell, and had mentored Black.
Photo couretsy of REUTERS/Carlo Allegri *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-HAM-OPED, originally transmitted on Oct. Dylann Roof, right, the 21-year-old man charged with murdering nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.
C., on June 17, 2015, listens to the proceedings with assistant defense attorney William Maguire during a hearing at the Judicial Center in Charleston on July 16, 2015.
The horror of that night was still vivid to the Rev. Black remembered watching confusing, inconclusive news footage of downtown Charleston on June 17 as reporters tried to piece the story together.
At the same time, he heard the voice of a fellow pastor through his phone, a friend calling from outside Emanuel, then ringed by official vehicles shining red and blue lights. The ambulances are not moving,” his distraught friend kept repeating.