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National

Forgiveness, Tolerance: Sunday Themes After Deadly Church Shooting

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, churches across this country yesterday paid tribute to the nine people who were killed in Charleston, S.C. It was the first Sunday since that shooting and in many places, the first time congregations were coming together. One theme resonated in sermons in many places - forgiveness.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH SERVICE)

PASTOR JOHN KELLER: This church - a Christian church - in the eve of tragedy, pain insurmountable, they cried forgiveness and they cried love.

GREENE: That's Senior Pastor John Keller of the First Baptist Church of Hilton Head Island, also in South Carolina. In his sermon, he praised the family members of the victims for their capacity to forgive. Some family members spoke in court on Friday as the alleged gunman Dylann Roof was formally charged with nine counts of murder to say that forgave him.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Rev. Mary Ann Macklin of the Unitarian Universalist church in Bloomington, Ind., also noted the forgiveness in Charleston and preached tolerance.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH SERVICE)

REV MARY ANN MACKLIN: It is sad when people find a place to belong out of hate. And yet we have seen grace from the families of the victims more than I've ever said in any sermon.

INSKEEP: And as some family members forgave the alleged gunman, still others invited him to join them in Bible service. Pastor Keller on Hilton Head said that sets an example.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLER: And I hope that one of the highlights to take away from all this is to see that - the Christian response - not a response of how we can do whatever to this young man - obviously, he needs a lot of help and probably and will be put away forever - but the way in which the Christian community responded.

INSKEEP: Yesterday, you could hear family members of the victims not only saying that they forgave the shooter, but some admitting they hadn't quite made it there yet and that they feel bad that they had not. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.