BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There was minimal security at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo Friday morning, as worshipers gathered to pray for the victims of the Charleston church shootings.
A lone sheriff’s patrol car was parked a short distance away.
“I have no fear. It will not stop me from worshiping God. I love him,” said Marie Lapaglia, who had come from West Seneca for the service.
Another worshiper was asked if he was worried about his surroundings. Bill Patterson replied ” Not today. Not yesterday and not tomorrow.”
During the homily, Buffalo’s Episcopal Bishop R. William Franklin acknowledged that racism and violence pose an ever increasing threat to safety.
“The freewheeling gun culture that makes it easy for anyone to obtain a weapons…must stop,” he said.
Dylann Roof has been charged with shooting nine people to death after sitting with them in a Bible study group. He was a new face in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In Buffalo, St. Paul Cathedral’s Interim Dean, The Very Reverend Will Mebane said his son told him he is worried about him. Mebane wrote him back saying “Don’t worry about me. God’s got me. I’m in God’s hands. So our doors will always be open.”
Howard Rosenhoch attended the memorial service. He is the President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo.
Rosenhoch says since 9/11, security has been stepped-up at major Jewish events in Western New York. But he says protection provided by off duty local enforcement officers is done in a way that is not alarming to those in attendance.
“We have responses that are always appropriate, that never get in the way of allowing the events to go forward as should,” he said.
“Though we have to be careful,” said Bishop Franklin, “I don’t want to do anything that’s going to screen anybody out, and make people feel that ‘I am not going to be welcome in this church.’ And I think it’s just the risk you’ve got to take.”
The Rt. Rev. Gloria Payne Carter, Rector at St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Buffalo, said “We are mindful of challenges in the community. We’re mindful that there are people who are untreated with respect to their mental health conditions, and so we will continue to do that. But hiding in fear and closing doors, that’s not where we’re coming from. We seek to welcome the stranger and the lost.”