A group of mourners formed a human chain Thursday outside Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina to help stave off possible protests at Ethel Lance’s funeral. Lance was one of nine people who died in a June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson were among the funeral’s attendees. The ceremony drew a crowd that filled Royal Missionary’s 1,300-seat capacity, as well as additional mourners who stood in line or waited outside the church to pay their respects to Lance, WCIV-TV, a local ABC affiliate reported.

A church band played “One Day At A Time,” Lance’s favorite gospel song, as her family sat down, the Post and Courier reported.


Those who participated in the human chain held signs that read “Love Wins.” A sizable group of Charleston police officers provided security outside Royal Missionary Baptist Church, WCSC-TV reported. The Westboro Baptist Church, an organization with a penchant for hate speech and divisive protests, threatened to picket the event, but the group’s members were not present as of Thursday afternoon.

Lance, who was 70-years-old, worked at Emanuel AME church for three decades, the New York Times reported. She attended the bible study where police say Dylann Roof, 21, carried out a racially motivated massacre of nine churchgoers. Roof was captured June 18 and charged with nine counts of murder and one count of weapon possession.

Lance’s daughter, Nadine Collier, was in attendance at a South Carolina court last Friday when Roof appeared at his bond hearing via closed-circuit video. An emotional Collier forgave Roof for his alleged actions.

“I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” Collier said.

The funeral of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, another of the shooting’s victims, was scheduled to begin Thursday at 2 p.m. EDT at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, also in North Charleston.