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Charleston Church To Hold Sunday Service And Deliver 'Message Of Hope'


We begin this evening in Charleston, S.C., where authorities are continuing their investigation into Wednesday's mass killing at an African-American church. Today, police took down the yellow crime scene tape that blocked access to the church. With that obstacle cleared away, church leaders announced that there will be Sunday services tomorrow. Details also emerged of a website that appears to show the alleged gunman striking menacing poses along with a racist manifesto. NPR's Jeff Brady has the latest.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Standing at a railing at the front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Norvel Goff made the announcement many here were hoping for.


NORVEL GOFF: The church will be open tomorrow.

BRADY: Goff said Sunday school starts at 8:30, and morning worship begins promptly at 9:30, and he offered a preview of tomorrow's sermon.


GOFF: It'll be a message of hope, a message of encouragement, a message that says that our faith is stronger than our fear and that God is still in charge of us all.

BRADY: Outside the church, despite the heat, visitors streamed by, many leaving flowers and other tributes. Church member Harold Washington responded to the news that there will be services tomorrow.

HAROLD WASHINGTON: We'll show you our resiliency, man. We didn't miss a Sunday. This happened last Wednesday. We open Sunday. We right back where we been at. Keep moving forward, you know? He didn't shut us down. All that stuff happened to us, all that murderous murder, but he didn't shut us down.

BRADY: Away from the church, a website surfaced today that appears to show alleged gunman Dylann Roof. NPR was not able to verify the site belongs to him, but other media organizations report it was registered to a Dylann Roof in February. Some of the photos show what appears to be Roof holding a Confederate flag. In a few photos, there's a gun and ammunition. The website includes unsigned manifesto-style text expressing racist opinions. It says the Trayvon Martin case, quote, "truly awakened me." It ends with a section labeled an explanation, in which the author writes about feeling called to act and that Charleston was picked because of its historic status.


BRADY: At an interfaith prayer service earlier in the day in North Charleston, Unity minister Ed Kosak struck a glass bowl and named the shooting victims.

ED KOSAK: Ethel Lance.


BRADY: The service, like others in the past few days, called for prayers for the dead, their families and the community. But this service also turned political. Geshe-la Topgyal of the Charleston Tibetan Society said the community needs more than prayer.

GESHE-LA TOPGYAL: We need to take down the Confederate flag that is still flying at our state capitol. This flag is a symbol of hate, a symbol of racists.


BRADY: That argument was popular at this prayer service, but others consider the flag a symbol of Southern heritage and will argue for keeping it on the capitol grounds. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has said the state will debate this issue again, but she says now is not the time. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.