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Halifax church to hold prayer vigil for Charleston shooting victims

WATCH: Cornwallis Street Baptist Church in Halifax is holding a special prayer vigil this Friday to honour the victims of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and to show support for the community. Rebecca Lau reports.

HALIFAX – Cornwallis Street Baptist Church in Halifax is holding a special prayer vigil this Friday to honour the victims of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and to show support for the community.

Nine people were shot and killed last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston during a bible study.

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“It’s supposed to be a safe place so to think that someone would come into a church and do that, it’s just heartbreaking and it’s shocking,” said Rev. Rhonda Britton, pastor at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church.

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The prayer vigil will be held on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and feature a candle-lighting. Two books of condolence will be sent to the congregation of the church in Charleston.

“This was an attack on not only the people, but the church,” she said. “It happened in a church and the church has historically been a voice for the disenfranchisement of people of colour and also for social injustice.”

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Britton and the church often promote messages of racial tolerance and peace. They hold a service, along with police, every year to mark the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The church is also partnering with CeaseFire Halifax — a program aimed at curbing violence in the city — for a service on Sunday to create dialogue about preventing violence.

“Of course [the Charleston shooting] ties in. It’s a violent act and that’s what we’re addressing in this service — the change of behaviour and norms,” said Shawn Parker, an outreach worker with CeaseFire Halifax.

“We have to come together and accept one another and be able to sit down and talk about issues. Not resort to a violent act to solve an issue.”