COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - People from around the Midlands came together at Allen University on Thursday to pray and to remember the three alumni that were gunned down last week in Charleston.
While they spent a lot of time remembering and praying for the Emanuel Nine, they also prayed for world peace too.
"We pray for peace in this world, and we thank You for the opportunity to gather together in prayer, and we ask Your blessings upon each and every one of us," the pastor of the vigil said. "This we ask in Your precious name."
Last week's massacre was particularly tough for the Columbia school. Three of its alumni were killed in the attack on Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston. Dr. Daniel Lee Simmons, Jr. from the Class of 1967, Senator Clementa Pinckney from the Class of 1995, and Tywanza Sanders from the Class of 2014.
"For it to happen in a church is kind of hard to take," Sumter resident Annie Brewer said. "But we have to forgive and love everybody, because we are all the same."
After a more upbeat prayer service, the dozens released balloons.
"To talk to him at the State House, when I would go there to lobby for state employees, his voice was so strong, and I just loved the way that he spoke," Brewer said.
Lia Milhouse had business administration classes with Tywanza Sanders.
"He was very gentle very kind and very respectable," Milhouse said. "He always answered me 'yes ma'am.' He was a humble guy. You couldn't have asked to meet a better person."
VP of Academic Affairs Charlene Spearen wrote a poem for the prayer service, a passion she said she shared with Sanders.
"Tywanza Sanders had just called me, it was the Thursday before the incident," Spearen said. "He said he had a manuscript of 200 pages that they wanted to send me, so that I could help them edit these poems and get that work published. His exact words were, 'I need to get it out there.'"
Spearen said she never got Sander's manuscript of poetry in the mail, but she's hoping to get a hold of it eventually so she can get it published.
She said she also knew Senator Pinckney who she describes as a giving gentleman whose name will always be remembered at Allen University.