Charleston church massacre survivor brings story to Montgomery

Church shooting survivors share story of forgiveness

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Survivors of the Emanuel AME church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina brought their message of forgiveness to Montgomery Monday night.

At Landmark Church, they shared their story of forgiveness and racial reconciliation after a white supremacist walked into the church, joined in a prayer session, then opened fire, killing nine church members.

"As I lay there under the table, praying, he approached me and asked, ‘Did I shoot you yet? I'm not going to shoot you. I’m going to leave you here to tell the story.’"

Polly Sheppard recounted those chilling moments during the 2015 Charleston church massacre.

"I survived with faith, not fear," she said.

This survivor, along with Reverend Anthony Thompson, whose wife was killed during the massacre, opened up about what happened when they forgive the man responsible.

"He took away the rage, bitterness and granted me the peace," Thompson said.

"That is the message, if you don't forgive you are only harming yourself," Sheppard said.

Landmark Lead Minister Buddy Bell said this was a moment to tackle the topic.

"This is the key to a lot of our racial issues,” he said. “Our goal tonight is to tear down our barriers that exist in our community."

And the hope is to start the conversation about racial reconciliation.

"We've been a divided country. What we can do is bring ourselves through forgiveness, which we have never had," said Thompson

The movie “Emanuel,” which will tell the story of the shooting, will be released in June 17 and 19 of this year.

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