Faith groups in Fuquay-Varina come together to pray for victims of Charleston shooting

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Inside the St. Augusta Baptist Church in Fuquay-Varina Saturday, voices from different churches and different denominations joined together in song and prayer. Together they honored the lives lost in the Charleston shooting earlier this week.

Candles were lit for each of the nine victims, who were all gunned down in their own sacred place of worship. Although the act itself was senseless, religious leaders urged those in attendance to not be afraid.

"We know in spite of what has happened in Charleston, we as a people don't live in fear, and continue to trust in our God each and every day," said the Rev. Dr. Martin Connelly, Jr.

Still, Fuquay-Varina's chief of police said this tragedy is a reminder for all churches to always have a security plan in place.

"Every church should have a security plan, that's part of the (church) providing safety and well-being for the congregation. As a member of the police department, we can assist every church within our community to discuss safety plans," promised Fuquay-Varina Police Chief Laura Fahnestock.

Meanwhile, other local leaders are reminding the community to not respond to violence with violence.

"We call on this nation, this world, this community, to not let this hate crime separate and divide us further," urged Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, with the Raleigh-Apex Branch of the NAACP.

"I think communities all across the country will come together and try their best to do the right things," added Mayor John Byrne.

And, as speakers shared at the service, that includes stopping the seeds of hate before they're sewn.

"We can say that we can end violence. It starts with conversations in the home. It starts with conversations in your church. It does not happen overnight... hate does not happen overnight," said Fahnestock.

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