Local churches organize memorial

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Love and forgiveness are the answers to the issues facing the country in the wake of a racially motivated shooting that left nine dead in South Carolina last week.

That’s the message Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor of the East Three Notch First Baptist Church, hopes locals will glean from last week’s tragedy, and from a memorial service planned in memory of the victims tomorrow night.

Karthaus said he is working with the Rev. Darryl Calloway, pastor of First Baptist Church Whatley Street, to organize the event, set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Andalusia City Hall.

“This is an opportunity for the community to come together to respond to the tragedy that happened in Charleston,” Karthaus said. “If it weren’t for the grace of God that could be any of us that it happened to.”

Karthaus said city hall was chosen as a location because organizers didn’t want any church to be more prominently featured than another.

“We thought it was a neutral site,” he said.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson and his wife, Sylvia, were in Charleston last Wednesday, about two blocks away from the shooting.

“It had a tremendous impact on both of us,” Johnson said. “

I felt like this is maybe a great opportunity across the nation for us to come together to support each other and to recognize that there is evil amongst us. We have an obligation to recognize this, and protect not only ourselves, but other loved ones. We have a responsibility to find out these people and to do something about it.”

For a long time, Johnson said, mass killings have been in the news for a short period of time.

“Two weeks later, we are all on to the next thing that happened,” he said. “We felt like this would be a good time for all good people to come together to pay tribute to those tragically and uselessly slaughtered, and to recommit for good people to take over our country again.”

Karthaus said he and others have attempted to contact all local churches to invite them to participate. The service, he said, will be a combination of praise and prayer.

“We will be praying for the victims – and the perpetrators – and praising God for how that community has worked through this. That’s another area for us to focus on. Their hearts must be hurting – but we should be inspired to be more forgiving through their example.”