Bradenton worshippers come to church after South Carolina shooting

BRADENTON -- As hundreds poured into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston S.C., Sunday morning for the first worship after the mass shooting there Wednesday, local pastors also noted that God's work had not ceased in Bradenton, either.

A crowd of about 100 came to Bradenton's Community Outreach Word of Deliverance Ministries Inc. Many said they would be more observant of their surroundings, but it won't stop them from coming to church.

"He didn't know it, but he was on assignment," the Rev. Arthur Huggins, assistant minister at the church, said Sunday of Dy

lann Roof, the man charged with killing nine during a Bible study.

Huggins told a crowd at Community Outreach, 650 27th St. W., Bradenton, that Roof didn't realize that he was carrying out an evil act as well as a racist act.

""This wasn't an ordinary Bible study," Huggins said. "They were people working in ministry. ... He was trying to destroy the work of God,"

They sang hymns and prayed for the dead in Charleston, and they did that in Bradenton, too.

"The incident in Charleston was devastating," said Gina Burney-Miller, a member of Community Outreach's praise team. "It was hurtful to see something like that happen. It goes to show you how the world is coming to be. The churches need to come together and do a power prayer for the world."

Bishop Dexter N. McDonald said he had heartfelt sympathy for the family of the Charleston church's pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. who was killed.

"But my heart also goes out to the person who did this because he was motivated by evil," McDonald said.

Father's Day 'umbrella' prayer

Sunday's service at Community Outreach Word of Deliverance Ministries also featured the annual umbrella prayer in which the adults join hands in the center row of the sanctuary and the children walk beneath them as others pray.

Deacon Edward Pointier then gave an emotional talk about family life and the responsibilities of both men and women.

"When you find a woman and marry her, that's your queen," Pointier told the congregation, getting applause. "Treat her like a queen. Put her before everyone else but God. Let no one talk bad about your wife.

"Women, don't let anyone talk bad about your husband," Pointer added. "Keep him as the head of the family but always keep in mind that God is the father."

After 56 years of marriage, Pointier's wife died three years ago.

"I always let her know she was the center of my life," Pointier said.

The Rev. David McDonald, Dexter McDonald's brother, read the congregation a Father's Day letter from his daughter, Desiree, in which she wrote, "You drive me crazy sometime but I am grateful to have a dad like you."

Said David McDonald to the congregation: "What that phrase, 'You drive me crazy,' taught me is that if I am driving her crazy it's because I am teaching her about God. I will keep teaching her about God because I love her."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.