Durham pastor in Charleston for shooting anniversary

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Friday, June 17, 2016
Remembering Charleston victims
Prayer services remember the victims of the Charlestown church shootings.

Dr. Benji Kelley, senior pastor of NewHope Church in Durham, said he felt the need to minister to the people of Charleston and the members of Mother Emanuel AME Church following last year's shooting tragedy that left nine church members, including the pastor, dead.

Dylann Roof, then 21, went to an evening prayer service under the guise of church visitor and eventually shot and killed those in attendance. Roof claimed to hate African-Americans and wanted to start a race war.

Kelley, a native of South Carolina, says he felt a redemptive spirit from the people of Charleston and the members of the church. He was invited back to the city this year by a local organizing group whom he previously met.


Friday, Kelley told ABC11 he would be attending services throughout the day in honor of the victims; along with spreading a message of diversity and inclusion.

"If we can -- learn to move beyond our differences, beyond our socioeconomic levels, beyond the pigment of our skin, and our skin color, and take one another's hand and just live as a peaceable people together on this beautiful planet that we've been given," he said.

NewHope Church has 10 campuses across the globe and Kelley says he wants the people of Charleston, members of Mother Emanuel, and the entire world to know that his church body stands in solidarity with them.

"The message that we're bringing is we stand with you," he told ABC11. "There is a movement of thousands of New Hopers throughout the Carolinas that we just want to let you know that we love you ... and we're in solidarity with you. And that this evil, this dastardly evil event that happened a year ago will not have the last word."

Kelley is scheduled to remain in Charleston through Sunday morning. He said he will be attending Sunday services at Mother Emanuel.

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