PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Portland continued to show its support Sunday for victims of the massacre at a church in Charleston, South Carolina last week.
On Father’s Day, church members wore black ribbons to show their solidarity with the shooting victims in South Carolina.
“It’s a big loss and also should be a big awakening for the world,” Nathan Redditt, who has been a member of the church for 78 years, told KOIN 6 News. “I honor those people and I respect them, love them.”
While honoring dads, many also spent the day praying for those who lost loved ones at their sister church. It was also a time for police to lend a hand to the church community, making sure the house of worship had an extra layer of security.
“You’re a little cautious anyway, and then when something like this happens, it makes you even more alert to what’s happening,” Redditt said.
Portland police promised to increase patrols on neighborhood streets over the weekend. On Sunday, a quiet presence remained outside as worship continued into the night.
“We look at the police as our friends,” Lafarrest Gay said. “They come to some of our meetings and things about neighborhood walks, and what we can do to improve the neighborhood.”
The day after the tragic shooting in South Carolina, Bethel AME’s Pastor Terry McCray Hill said their hearts go out to the victims.
“As our hearts go out to Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was the pastor of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 41 years old,” she said. “At the age of 29 he was the youngest elected member of the state legislature of SC.”
She said she spent time on sabbatical in Charleston. That church, founded in 1860, spread a message of hope, freedom, peace and understanding.
“First of all, we want to focus on the victims of this great tragedy and mass shooting within a church. It is, we believe, a crime against humanity,” said Dr. Leroy Haynes of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform.
The Bethel AME church has been in Portland for 125 years. Hill said this is an opportunity for all faiths and races to come together to be as one.
In a statement, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said, “My heart goes out to the people of Charleston, South Carolina, in the wake of an unimaginable hate crime at the Emanuel AME Church. Such an attack might happen on the far side of our nation, but any such act is an attack on us all. The people of Charleston are in our hearts and in our prayers.”
Police plan to continue their patrols for the next 2 weeks.