Fresno vigil remembers Charleston church shooting victims

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In Fresno, a reverend with ties to the deadly shooting at a South Carolina church is helping her congregation make sense of the tragedy. (KFSN)

In a quaint church tucked away in Southwest Fresno, Rev. Sharon Avril is preaching forgiveness. "Our love is like chemo and radiation against the cancer of hate," she said.

Images of terror swept the nation last week, when nine people were shot and killed during a Bible study at a church in Charleston, S.C. And in Fresno, just days later, a small vigil was held for those who died and those who are still mourning the loss.

"We have been through many of these episodes, but as I saw this unfold in 2015, it was just very devastating to my spirit," said Rev. Dr. Carl Jones of the West Fresno Ministry Alliance.

During the service on Sunday, Rev. Avril spoke about two of the victims she knew, like 41-year-old Rev. Clementa Pinckney. The pastor led the Bible study where accused shooter Dylann Roof opened fire.

But instead of anger, people embraced each other at Carter Memorial and sang about unity.

"The service was encouraging. The service was uplifting. It's good for us to come together and unify as one," said Deborah Lewis.

Even with love in their hearts, leaders here are aware of potential dangers. The church said it's working to ensure the safety of its members.

"Start looking at stepping up security and doing different things in case there are persons out there who may want to copycat or do other things, that we are aware of our surroundings and what we're doing," said Rev. Avril.
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