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Biden Attends Services at Emanuel AME

  • VOA News

The Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. (Amanda Scott/VOA)

The Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. (Amanda Scott/VOA)

Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at the Emanuel AME church Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wearing a purple tie, the symbolic color of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Biden said he came to Sunday’s services because he and his family wanted to show solidarity with the families and the church.

Biden read a selection of scripture and received a standing ovation from congregants at the church, where nine people, including the pastor, were killed by a lone gunman during a Bible study group earlier this month.

A day earlier, on Saturday, mourners from Charleston and beyond gathered for funerals of three more victims of the mass shooting.

The first service of the day was for 54-year-old Cynthia Hurd. Saturday's attendees included South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, U.S. Senator Tim Scott and Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley.

"Her death will lead to change and Cynthia Hurd will be helping millions," Riley said in his eulogy to the longtime librarian and church activist.

Governor Haley also addressed the grieving audience. "I am sorry this happened on my watch," she said. "But we will make it right."

Services for 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders and 87-year-old Susie Jackson were under way later in the day.

WATCH: Obama Delivers Eulogy for Slain Pastor

The funerals came one day after President Barack Obama eulogized another victim, church Pastor Clementa Pinckney. Obama, in a moving tribute, called the slain pastor a visionary who embodied openness and grace.

Jennifer Pinckney accepts a rose at the burial of her husband, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Marion, South Carolina, June 26, 2015.

Jennifer Pinckney accepts a rose at the burial of her husband, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Marion, South Carolina, June 26, 2015.

In his eulogy, seen by millions around the globe, the president also addressed America's historic and ongoing struggle with race relations and gun violence.

He mentioned the gunman, Dylann Roof, 21, saying Roof had been "blinded by hatred [and] failed to comprehend what Reverend Pinckney so well understood: the power of God's Grace."

The theme of grace dominated the 35-minute eulogy, which commentators continue to describe as the most powerful address of Obama's presidency.

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