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Emanuel health fair named for slain pastor Clementa Pinckney strives to help others

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John Pinckney visits booths at the Clementa C. Pinckney Community Health Fair

Rev. Clementa Pinckney's father, John, and aunt Deloris Gregory are among the slain pastor's family who visited booths set up around Emanuel AME Church's fellowship hall on Saturday. Staff/Jennifer Berry Hawes

The father of Emanuel AME Church's slain pastor tooled around its fellowship hall Saturday visiting dozens of booths set up by vendors and health professionals on hand to continue his legacy of caring for those in need.

The Clementa C. Pinckney Community Health Fair, named after the pastor who died in the 2015 shooting that left nine Emanuel members dead, preserves one of Pinckney's favorite outreaches, said Elnora Taylor, a longtime church member and retired nurse who organizes it each year. 

"This all goes to the glory of God," Taylor said, "because he healed the sick."

John Pinckney, the pastor's father, joined other family members meandering around the fellowship hall where the shooting occurred. He stopped by booths featuring everything from blood pressure and glucose screenings to veterans care to healthy eating ideas.  

"It's a good way to carry on his name," Pinckney said of his son, who also was a state senator. "It shows a lot of love. It's helping somebody who can't get to the doctor, which means a lot to me."

Clementa Pinckney represented a large rural swath of the state and advocated to improve health and education for the many disadvantaged residents who lived there. He also believed that the church should heed Jesus' call to serve those in need by doing more outreach beyond its walls.

Carolyn Whaley, a nurse who retired from a long career working with veterans, noted that many South Carolina residents lack health insurance and don't know how to access basic services they need. The health fair, with about 50 vendors, aims to help with that. 

"This is all about health and outreach to the community," Whaley said.

As people milled around the booths inside the white building, outside church bells rang the song "Amazing Grace," which President Obama famously sang at Pinckney's funeral.  

Contact Jennifer Hawes at 843-937-5563. Follow her on Twitter @jenberryhawes.

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