The church in South Carolina where a white gunman murdered nine African Americans, held Sunday its first church service since the massacre, an emotional gathering celebrating the lives of those slain.
Hundreds of congregants, some tearful, packed the Emanuel African American Episcopal Church for a service led by a visiting minister because the congregation's pastor was among those killed by 21-year old Dylann Roof, a white supremacist said to have been trying to ignite a race war.
"There they were in the house of the Lord, studying your word, praying with one another," said visiting minister Reverend Norvel Goff from the pulpit of the Emanuel church, four days after the massacre.
"But the devil also entered. And the devil was trying to take charge," he said.
"Thanks be to god, hallelujah, that the devil cannot take control of your people. And the devil cannot take control of your church."
The historic church, the oldest of its kind in the South, reopened Saturday after police said it was no longer a crime scene. Some members visited the room where fellow worshipers were gunned down.
A website allegedly created by Roof surfaced recently, in which he wrote a 2,500 word racist screed against African Americans and appears in photos with guns and burning the US flag.