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Duluth church to host remembrance for South Carolina shooting victims

A memorial service to remember the nine people killed at a South Carolina church is scheduled for Thursday in Duluth.

Pilgrim Congregational Church is hosting an evening of remembrance of the nine black worshippers who were killed last year at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The memorial service is expected to include reflection on racism and violence as well as a commitment to action. The service is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the church, 2310 E. Fourth St.

"As the Minnesota Council of Churches pointed out, we have a tendency to see these things, react to them at the time and then forget so part of their purpose and initiative is that we not forget and that we move beyond simply remembering to saying, So what then do we do differently?" said the Rev. Jennifer Amy-Dressler of Pilgrim Congregational Church. "That's an important part of the service as well, that we move toward that next step of what do we do besides remember? How does this change us?"

The evening is part of a Minnesota Council of Churches initiative offering a weekly vigil of remembrance for a year in response to the Emanuel AME shooting.

The memorial service at Pilgrim Congregational Church will begin with the names and biographical information about each victim, read by Amy-Dressler and the Rev. Richard Coleman of St. Mark AME, in addition to lighting candles and ringing a bell for each person. The information will allow attendees to "understand a little clearer what was lost that day," Amy-Dressler said.

Amy-Dressler said she and Coleman will then share a message to give the audience time to reflect on the shooting at Emanuel AME and its implications around racism and violence. A litany written by an AME bishop last summer will give people options on how to take action.

During the service, information will be provided on an upcoming Duluth interfaith summit on gun violence and an upcoming anti-racism weekend at Pilgrim Congregational Church as next steps in which people can become involved, Amy-Dressler said.

In addition to state criminal charges, 21-year-old Dylann Roof is facing federal hate-crime charges in the June 17, 2015 killing at Emanuel AME Church.

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