A massacre. A hate crime.

You've likely heard the news: Nine parishioners were murdered last night while attending Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

They were killed in cold blood by Dylann Roof, a white man who sat among them during their worship for more than an hour, then opened fire, declaring "You're raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go."

There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.

In these times we feel distraught—but we will not cower when attacked. I am on my way to fellowship with the Emanuel AME Church community. As we wait for the facts and ponder how anyone could act with such hate, we must stand together and show our support for the Charleston community.

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Now that Dylann Storm Roof has been apprehended, we look forward to justice being served—to him being held accountable, punished swiftly and severely.

Our heartfelt prayers and soul-deep condolences go out to the families and community of the victims. This small gesture can console and unite our community—and our nation—as we grapple with the weight of this tragedy.

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