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Faith and the role it's playing in discussing hate, racism following the Buffalo mass shooting

Lost to hate and racism, the lives of the 10 victims killed in the supermarket shooting are fueling calls for self and societal reflection.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The music coming from St. Martin De Porres Church on Northampton Street on the East Side of Buffalo Monday was the sound of hope.

"There's a lot of goodness in this community and a lot of good being shown in the midst of such tragedy," said Bishop Michael Fisher.

The Diocese of Buffalo hosted an Interfaith Prayer Service for the 10 people killed at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue on May 14. The service was attended by people from all faiths and backgrounds.

It was standing room only, just minutes after starting.

"We lift their hearts, we lift their spirits up, we hope that their death is not in vain," said Dr. Marianne Partee, a parishioner of St. Martin De Porres Church.

Lost to hate and racism, the lives of the victims are fueling a new conversation that many like Pastor James Giles of 'Back to Basics Outreach Ministry' hope will lead to change beyond the faith community.

"Our problems are so complex in this society we need everyone, I mean everyone who can do something must do something," Pastor Giles said.

The worry for people like Dr. Marianne Partee is that "when the cameras go away" the tough conversation about Black and Brown hate can not do the same.

"If people don't talk and have these hard conversations this is going to continue... I wonder what's happening and I'm glad this is here, but I pray that outside communities, white communities are touched enough to deal with it [racism] if they hear it and they see it," said Partee.

The hymn sung throughout the service was simply "Heal Our Land," but if Western New York really is to heal, Partee says the same traits that made Monday's prayer service so powerful (hope and love), must be applied beyond the walls of the St. Martin De Porres parish.

Bishop Fisher concluded that while the church is a starting point for many people, tackling bias will need to happen for weeks and months to come.

"I think we need to continue to work to bring awareness to the racism and hatred in our society and in our communities and I think it begins with each one of us and I think we can challenge our people in terms of our faith in that way," Bishop Fisher said.


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