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Episcopal Dioceses of WNY hosts vigil to honor the victims following Tops shooting

Faith leaders from across the Episcopal Dioceses of Western New York hosted a service of healing, where they shared prayers and messages of purpose and hope.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's been one week and one day since 10 innocent lives were lost in a racist act of violence at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue on Buffalo's East Side.

And as the community continues to grieve, the need for healing and action remain a priority.

Faith leaders from across the Episcopal Dioceses of Western New York hosted a service of healing, where they shared prayers and messages of purpose and hope with the community.

Bishop Sean Rowe leads the Dioceses and says right now, his mission to make sure people understand that action is needed just as much as prayer right now. 

"We are here to pray, but we are also here to act. For us prayer is what happens before the action comes," Bishop Rowe says. "We need our white brothers and sister to act and to understand that we cannot rely on our communities of color, our Black brothers and sisters, to do our work," Bishop Rowe said firmly.

Rowe, along with several other local and visiting faith leaders, took to the microphone on Sunday to share a unified message of love. But he also called for use to hold one another accountable.

Revered Traci Blackmon with the Church of Christ also shared a strong message.

"Weeping and grieving are part of the ways that we express love that we have no other way to express," Blackmon said. 

Her message was followed by a profound message by Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, who is the first woman to lead the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"All of us grieve differently, yes we do. All of us experience trauma differently, yes we do. So be patient with each other, be patient with us, be patient with your community," Bishop McKenzie said. 

Pastor Steve Lane from St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Buffalo helped to organize Sunday's vigil. He told 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin that Sunday is really about being together, about spreading messages of love, even though many people, including himself, are rightfully feeling anger in their hearts. 

"I want people to know we are here together. We are here to show that evil does not win, love will always win. God's love will win," Pastor Steve shared.

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