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WATCH: Obama sings 'Amazing Grace' at funeral for Charleston church leader

He said the Charleston shooter was “blinded by hatred.”

obamacharleston Source: The White House via YouTube

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama led the congregation in a rendition of Amazing Grace today, at the funeral for Clementa Pinckney, pastor of the church in Charleston where he and eight others were shot dead last week.

Obama gave a rousing and emotional eulogy for 41-year-old Pinckney, whom he knew personally, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

He said the “alleged killer”, whom he didn’t name, but who is strongly suspected to be 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, was “blinded by hatred.”

With First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden sitting in the front row of the packed church, Obama said:

We do not know whether the killer of Reverend Pinkney and eight others knew this history, but he surely sensed the meaning of his violent act.
It was an act that drew on a long history, of bombs and arson, and shots fired at churches. Not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorise and oppress.
An act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion. An act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.

revpinckney File photo of Rev Clementa Pinckney Source: Emanuel AME Church

He then brought the congregation to its feet, and was greeted with rapturous applause, when he added:

Oh, but – God works in mysterious ways. God has different ideas. He didn’t know he was being used by God.
Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group.
The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court, in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness – he couldn’t imagine that.

Obama praised Pinckney, a former South Carolina state senator as “a man of God who lived by faith” but was “slain in his sanctuary.”

He added that the massacre last Wednesday evening “cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church.”

The Church is, and always has been, the centre of African-American life. A place to call our own in a too-often hostile world. A sanctuary from so many hardships.Our beating heart. The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate.

And as his eulogy drew to a close, Obama recited the words of the Christian hymn Amazing Grace, before breaking into song, as the congregation joined him.

Source: YouFirstNews/YouTube

Read: Hundreds gather for first funerals of Charleston shooting victims>

WATCH: Families of victims tell Charleston shooting suspect “I forgive you”>

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Dan MacGuill

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