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CHARLESTON, S.C. (KDKA) – It was a moving show of solidarity in South Carolina last weekend.

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Members of Pittsburgh’s New Light Congregation from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh marched alongside members of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, the church where a gunman shot and killed nine people in 2015.

Two religious communities, deeply affected by the gun violence came together.

Photo Credit: KDKA

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a big deal in Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, the city hosts one of the biggest parades ever. But this year, 2019, there is a group of people here from Pittsburgh.

This MLK Day parade had everything you would expect. Marching bands, floats, supporters lining the sidewalks.

But in the midst of more than 200 groups marching in this parade, a group wearing “stronger than hate” T-shirts, carrying signs that read “no place for hate” were members of the New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh joined by members of Emanuel AME church and members of the Jewish Federation, marching arm in arm.

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“We are saying today, that words matter. Hate will not win. That love is stronger than hate,” one congregant said.

It was hate that brought these two congregations together.

In June of 2015 Dylan Roof entered Emanuel’s regular bible study with a gun – killing nine people . In October of 2018, Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue – killing 11 people, including three from New Light.

On this day, these two congregations join forces to send a message – one they hope will be heard around the world.

“We will not be broken by this,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman. “That continues to be my motto thru out this.”

The MLK parade was just one of several meetings between two congregations that share a special bond — now unbreakable.

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It was called “A trip of healing” and for many from Pittsburgh, is was just that.

Lynne Hayes-Freeland