Stained glass windows do not a sanctuary make. That was made clear last night at A Community United fundraiser for the Emanuel Nine.

The Rev. Norvel Goff didn’t need pews or a pulpit. When he took the stage at the Belmond Charleston Place ballroom, church was in session. 

“We have demonstrated what it means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” he boomed. “We have shown the world what it means to forgive when our hearts have been broken, our pillows wet with tears. We are stronger together than we are apart.”

The crowd erupted into cheers before partaking in a gourmet communion of sorts provided by the staffs of 50-plus food and beverage purveyors assembled by Charleston Grill GM Mickey Bakst. The diverse crowd hugged and listened to the Lowcountry Voices gospel choir as they enjoyed small bites like ricotta and arugula gnudi from the Obstinate Daughter and lamb sandwiches from Edmund’s Oast. 

But the main purpose of the event was an auction benefiting the families of the Emanuel Nine, and Bakst had no qualms about encouraging guests to make bids. Following Rev. Goff’s sermon, Bakst said, “I hate to be crass, but let’s raise a lot of money.” 

Guests did just that by bidding on silent auction items ranging from original artwork to Grammy Award tickets to a Charleston Animal Society puppy named Addy. The bidding was open to anyone in the nation and closed at 9:30 p.m. last night. According to Obviouslee’s Lea Deas who helped with the event, the auction has raised over $500,000* for the victim’s families.
*This number is still being tallied. 

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