The entire nation is in disbelief at the shooting of nine people while they were attending a church service. How sad that the place of refuge must now be protected.

As a people of faith committed to social justice and opposed to gun violence and racism, we grieve for the lives lost in this horrendous act of violence. The reality is that no one is unaffected. We are all impacted by the horror that occurred in this place of worship.

This horrific hate crime is another sign of the lack of concern and care for human life.

These are the days in which violence is glorified, but also the days that we need strengthened faith. We need faith that challenges us to take an active role in stopping funerals resulting from violence and hate.

We pray for the victims affected by this shooting and ask God to wrap his arms around these families and give them strength as they mourn this terrible tragedy. Please keep the families in your prayers.

Dr. James I. Clark, Jr.

Director, Social Justice,

Economic and Racial Equality Commission, Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc.

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

New York, N.Y.

This letter was also signed by Elder Van Adams, chief of staff, and Apostle Walter Lee Jackson, pastor, Greater Refuge Temple, Huger Street, Charleston.