The Rev. Waltrina N. Middleton stood in front of hundreds inside of Charleston's Gaillard Center and sang a familiar song.
Her voice, warm and resonant, filled the hall: Somebody needs you, Lord, kumbaya; somebody needs you, Lord, kumbaya; somebody needs you, Lord, kumbaya; oh, Lord, kumbaya.
Those three words, Gullah for "come by here," stood at the heart of Middleton's prayer for her cousin, the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, who was one of the nine victims killed during the June 17, 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. Waltrina Middleton was one of several of the victims' family members and others who prayed, spoke and performed during an ecumenical worship service Saturday afternoon on the two-year anniversary of the shooting.
"So come by here for the Middleton family and all of us seeking your peace this morning, God," she said during her prayer. "We the families that lament the festering sores of racism, classism and the moral injuries of violent oppression against black and brown bodies in this country, we call on you to kum ba yah."
The worship service focused on remembering the nine victims, honoring their legacy and building a strong future.
Former Gov. Nikki Haley, who could not attend, former Mayor Joe Riley, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen and the Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., presiding elder of the 7th District AME Church in South Carolina, each received leadership awards from Emanuel.
Artist Leroy Campbell presented copies of his painting, "Bible Study," to the families of the nine victims.
The service also featured performances of hymns like, "My Hope is Built," and, "Amazing Grace;" prayers by family members of each of the nine victims; and addresses by Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster.
The Rev. Dr. Joel Gregory, of Baylor University, delivered the service's main address, in which he asked the victims' families and others in attendance to, "abhor evil and cling to good."
"The evil of evil is evil's hatred of good and unless we look at that, we miss the message," Gregory said.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ combined both the most evil and most good acts imaginable — the suffering and death of the son of God, and the salvation of man, he said.
"In that same way on that June 14, two years ago, God's people gathered in the light of goodness and evil walked into that room (but) evil is only a shadow," Gregory said.