At 9:17 a.m., ministers took their places on the pulpit. Long-time mayor Joseph Riley and Gov. Nikki Haley took seats along the front row.
The Rev. Norvel Goff Sr., presiding elder of the Edisto District, who stood in for slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney, began his sermon nearly two hours later. He said that God and Mother Emanuel were “refuges.”
“We were pleased when authorities called us and said you can go back to Mother Emanuel and worship,” Goff said. “Some might need more time. But for those of you who are here, being open on this Sunday sends a message to every demon in Hell and on Earth that while somebody wanted to divide the races, no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”