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Church members gather, pray for Charleston

LAWTON, Okla._Church members in Lawton have been gathering the last two weeks in remembrance of the nine lives that were taken when a gunman opened fire in a South Carolina church.

Community members have designated the noon hour once a week to meet in the City Hall auditorium to pray in hopes of sending comfort to those who lost loved ones.

The people behind the prayer meetings say they not only want to pray for the people who lost their lives, but also for the rest of the nation that was deeply troubled by one individual's acts and hatred. Together, no matter what religion, they're praying for healing and the acceptance of one another.

Mary Bailey-Harris, a member of Saint John Baptist Church in Lawton, helped spear-head these scheduled prayers after she was moved by a higher power.

"The lord spoke to me as I was cleaning up. And something said, I knew it was the Holy Spirit, said call City Hall," said Bailey-Harris.

After making the phone call to City Hall and getting the okay to use the auditorium, Bailey-Harris began calling her friends. She said they were eager to help, all realizing what happened in South Carolina could have very well happened here.

"I was just thinking of all the community, and all over the world, it could have been any one of us or anyone of them," said Bailey-Harris.

She says the Monday after Father's Day, she was moved by the amount of people who came.

"Low and behold, I walk into this place and half the auditorium was filled and that was by God's doing, it wasn't my doing," she said.

Pastor William John White from Duncan has been joining the prayer meetings since it started two weeks ago. He says the tragedy in South Carolina triggered mixed emotions.

"Some anger, frustration, some discouragement, hurt, disappointment, but at the same time some hope," said Pastor White.

White says God brought on the community prayer meetings for a reason. He says in time, the city of Charleston, and the nation, will heal.

"Out of darkness, God brings light. Out of tragedy, he brings newness and freshness," said Pastor White.

More than a dozen people attended Thursday's hour of prayer. Everyone will be meeting again next week Monday through Friday beginning at noon. Church officials encourage anyone who can make it out to attend.

The group meeting at City Hall also remembered one of their friends, Sam Moyd, who passed away on Friday. Moyd was pastor of Zoe Christian Center in Lawton.

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