TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Pastor Lee Johnson of Trinity United Presbyterian Church said he woke up around 2 a.m. Thursday morning when he saw the headlines on the news -- nine shot dead in a Charleston church.
As a pastor and the president of Tallahassee's chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Johnson said he was "shocked" to hear the shooting took place in a church, and further, that the shooting was targeted at black people.
"We talk about the violence issue that we've had locally here in Tallahassee, and we're working on that," he said. "But who would have ever thought that we'd have violence in the church? A place that is supposedly one that is a safe place for us to come and meditate and pray. Now, we find out that, really, there's nothing sacred anymore."
Johnson said he will join other local church leaders Saturday at 9 a.m. at Bethel AME Church for a prayer breakfast. The event was scheduled before the shooting, he said, but now it will be an invitation for all pastors, regardless of race, to come and pray together as a community.
Before that, local pastors will speak out against the violence at a special press conference Friday at 2 p.m. at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
“How do we address gun violence and a sense of disrespect for life in the church and community, while simultaneously preventing people who are trying to divide this country along racial, political, and ethnic lines?” said Bethel pastor Reverend R.B. Holmes in a statement.
Pastor Johnson said he will meet with his church administration next week to determine if they need to make any changes to keep their congregation safer. Johnson said he feels confident church service will be safe on Sunday, not only at his church, but also at all others.