LEBANON - As shocking and horrific as the massacre at a black church on Wednesday is, it shouldn't surprise us, said a local pastor on Thursday.
"Stuff like this surprises us and catches us off guard, but we live in a world that is tainted by evil," said Pastor Mark Krane of the First Parish Congregational Church of Lebanon. "It's a broken world. So evil is very much alive and well."
Police say 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof walked into the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, was accepted into a prayer group meeting and soon after opened fire on the group of African Americans, killing nine and wounding one.
He told the three he spared he did so because he wanted them to tell his story.
Media reports indicate Roof had developed extreme racist views, thinking blacks were taking over the world.
The church's lead pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was killed, along with Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
Invoking the Sandy Hook tragedy of December 2012 in which 20 elementary school children were killed by gunman Adam Lanza, Krane said killings or massacres like this shake people to the core.
"People expect a school or a church will be a safer place," he said.
Boston Police have confirmed already that AME Sunday church services in the Hub will be closely surveilled and patrolled.
Despite the despicable and damnable actions of Roof, Krane urged Christians and people of all faiths to take heart and be comforted in the fact that while there is so much evil in the world, God is very much with us all.
"The good news is God is very much alive and well and he is very much against it," Krane said. "He's at work trying to save us in the middle of it. He hasn't left us. He gave us his only son and he gives us redemption."
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)