On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, an evening prayer service had just begun at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, when 21-year-old Dylan Roof entered the building and began firing at the people sitting in the church pews.
When the firing stopped, Roof had murdered nine African Americans, including state senator Clementa Pinckney, the church's senior pastor. Three other victims survived.
This week, the Emanuel AME Church is commemorating the third anniversary of the shooting with several events, including a community Bible study Wednesday night. Emanuel pastor the Rev. Eric Manning and the Rev. Anthony Thompson, husband of shooting victim Myra Thompson will share hosting duties, according to The Post and Courier newspaper.
Musicians from Seacoast Church will also appear during the evening of worship, remembrance, and Bible study.
Thursday, June 21, the church congregation and Palmetto Community Action Partnership are hosting middle school students for a day of interactive sessions that celebrate multiculturalism and diversity through collaborative art projects. Children will also gain tools to combat bullying and process tragedy.
Also on Thursday evening, the church will host the Second Annual Charleston Forum. According to the newspaper, the forum will engage the audience in a candid conversation about race. Speakers scheduled to appear include, CNN commentators Paris Dennard and Bakari Sellers; Lilyn Hester, Google's head of southeast public affairs; Elliot Smalley, superintendent of S.C. Public Charter School District; Michael Moore, president and CEO of the International African American Museum; Alana Simmons, founder of Hate Won't Win and the granddaughter of shooting victim The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.
On Saturday, June 23, the church is sponsoring the Emanuel 9 Rally for Unity to be held in downtown Charleston.
The public is invited to this "call to action" to end gun violence and seek racial reconciliation in celebration of the lives of the victims and survivors of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.
And on Sunday, June 24, the church is hosting the Third Annual "Morning Grace" Gospel Finale.
According to The Post and Courier, the theme of this year's commemoration finale is "We Survive."
Special guests include the Mother Emanuel Mass Choir, harpist Holly Avesian, Carl Bright & Family, June Dupree, liturgical dancer Stephen Polite, Mario Desaussure, Crystal Brown and Mike Brown & FOCUS.