Interim pastor of Emanuel AME awarded state’s highest honor

FILE - In this June 21, 2015, file photo, Rev. Norvel Goff speaks during a prayer service at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of it's pastor and eight others. The 65-year-old Goff was named interim leader of the historic church called “Mother Emanuel” at one of the lowest points in its nearly 200-year history. But the Georgetown, South Carolina, native says the church won’t dwell on the past. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool, File)

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) – The interim pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston has been awarded South Carolina’s highest civilian honor for his work in helping the community heal following the massacre there in June.

Multiple media outlets report that Gov. Nikki Haley surprised the Rev. Norvel Goff when she awarded him the Order of the Palmetto during an appreciation dinner Friday in his hometown of Georgetown.

Haley praised Goff’s leadership following the June 17 shootings at the historic black church. The nine victims included its pastor, Sen. Clementa Pinckney. A 21-year-old white man is charged with their murder.

At the dinner, Goff was also presented a painting of each of the nine victims, for him to take to the church known as Mother Emanuel.

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