On the two-year anniversary, Lowcountry group turns Emanuel Nine tragedy into community conversation

BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) –  “Our intention today is to create an opportunity for people to talk to each other and to listen and to hear,” said Jack Bomar, the lead pastor at United Church in Beaufort.

The United Interfaith Community Coalition started two years ago, on the eve of the Mother Emanuel church shooting in Charleston.

“When the Emanuel nine event happened, um one of the things we quickly realized was there is this desire to reach out to one another, but we didn’t know each other well enough to do that,” said Jim Wooten, pastor at the Baptist Church of Beaufort.

The coalition consists of 12 different denominations and the goal is to bring Beaufort together to talk.

“We wanted a tragic situation to give birth to real possibility and to new hope in our community.”

On the two year anniversary of the Emanuel nine, the coalition hosted a Day of Unity.

“In order to really bring about significant change, transformative change we have to know what the issues are,” said Bomar, “A lot of emphasis on education, community relations and economics… which happens to be three of the major concerns right now for many.”

Concerns like teacher salaries and hunger, things that Beaufort’s leaders want to hear about.

“One of the things I learned a long time ago is leaders use their ears to listen not necessarily their mouths,” said Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, “The Emanuel massacre was really sort of a launchpad… this interfaith faith unified group has the ability to steer the community in a direction that’s gonna make us more peaceful, more productive and better for all.”

What was originally an act of hate on religion is now breaking down barriers within communities.

If you’d like to get involved with the coalition, you can find their events and contact information on their Facebook page here.

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