Charleston church members reflect on Charlottesville violence, forgiveness

Charleston church on violence in Va.

The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States. Although this church, its parishioners and this community know heartache -- they also know how to forgive.

Here, the healing will never stop. But the open dialogue and message of forgiveness may help heal the wounds that were ripped open more than two years ago when the church was attacked by white supremacist Dylann Roof. He killed nine people, including the pastor.

Following the violent Charlottesville protests, the congregation is praying and showing support for the latest victims of race-inspired violence, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid. 

"I think what the world forgets is that each time we come back here, we come back to a crime scene. We have to get through that every day," said Willi Glee, one of the church's parishioners.

Glee has been a parishioner at Mother Emanuel for years, as has Cynthia Amos.

Glee said, "I think there is a lesson in Charlottesville that should come to all Americans: You have a nation that does a lot of talk about race, does a lot of talk about social justice, but very few people are doing anything about it."

Amos added, "Some people just get crazy and they don't realize that what they're doing to their brother or their sister, and it bothers me."

Earlier this week, President Trump was criticized for equating the white nationalists who marched on Charlottesville with the counter-protesters.

"Leadership is everything," said Pastor Eric Manning.

Manning has been leading Mother Emanuel church since last June -- one year after Roof's horrific attack.

"It is hard to forgive, but aspire to forgive. Aspire to love. Because if you continue to carry hatred in your heart, it will become cancerous and it will begin to tear the community further apart," Manning said.

Asked if those spewing hate could ever embrace love, Manning said, "I would have to believe they can. We think about the song 'Amazing Grace,' right? Penned by a former slave trader."

"And sung by – everyone. Right? And President Obama, of course, sang it at the eulogy as well. So, surely, people can change. The question is: Are we going to be an agent for that change or are we going to further spew the negative hatred that we know does not do anyone any good?" Manning said.

To fight that kind of hatred, Manning said, "We have to continue to pray one for another" and "forgive them."

Manning said that while Bible study always begins with a discussion of biblical text, the conversation eventually moves to current events. On Wednesday night, it was Charlottesville that weighed heavily on their minds.