CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The senior pastor of a Charleston church that was the target of a 2015 hate crime is reaching out to the victims of a recent hate crime in Buffalo, New York.

Mother Emanuel AME Church’s senior pastor, Eric Manning, empathized with those impacted by the May 14, 2022 shooting at a grocery store in a predominately Black neighborhood, which left 10 people dead and three injured. Pastor Manning is familiar with the healing process, having lost nine members of his church on June 17, 2015 when a racist gunman opened fire after bible study.

“We can relate to your hurt, pain and anger,” Pastor Manning said, adding “the congregation of Mother Emanuel was in the same place almost seven years ago.”

The massacre at Mother Emanuel reignited the push for a hate crimes law in South Carolina, which still has yet to be passed. It also highlighted the prevalence of online radicalization, with the shooter posting his manifesto online. Investigators believe that the alleged Buffalo shooter was radicalized online as well, even livestreaming the shooting.

Pastor Manning acknowledged the tragedy of not only the deaths, but the scar that will be left on the community.

“For the last six years I have personally watched how God continued to strengthen our community and I know that He will do the same for yours,” he said. ” However, it does not negate the reality of your pain, and the testimony of the empty seat of your loved ones.”

He ended by encouraging those impacted by the shooting to lean on their faith, and on their brothers and sisters in Charleston.

“Please know that as you mourn, we mourn with you, and will be here for you if you need anything.  In closing I leave you with the following words that are found in Psalm 121 verses one and two, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

May the God of Heaven continue to strengthen you today, tomorrow, and always. In The Strength of The Lord.”