Legendary singer and producer Pharrell Williams recently visited Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he touched the congregation with a soulful rendition of his hit song, "Freedom" before hosting a forum for the community to discuss the racial divide in the state.
Less than five months ago, tragedy struck the historic church when white supremacist Dylan Roof shot and killed nine worshippers, including the church's pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
"We are grateful to be here in this place, in this building, and to be able to feel the spirit of resilience," the 42-year-old "Happy" singer told worshippers Nov. 1, according to The Post And Courier. "You've been hit by fire, rain, wind ... but it's still standing."
The church's interim pastor Rev. Norvel Goff, Sr. praised Williams saying, "This young man has a message that will bless the world ... a message of freedom, diversity and inclusiveness."
The following day, Williams hosted an open forum at the church to give parishioners and people in the community a chance to discuss the racial divide in South Carolina.
According to WCEB, attendees included family members of those who were killed inside the church, often referred to as Mother Emanuel, back on June 17, as well as Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, state senators, local officials and members of the community.
The news report notes that one particularly touching moment occurred when a 12-year-old girl named Sarah asked the Grammy Award-winning-singer for advice when it comes to dealing with bullies.
While weeping, Sarah explained that she attends a predominantly white school, where people often make racist jokes.
"You're beautiful and you're black, but before you're black, you're beautiful because you have a life and you have a soul. You're beautiful," Williams responded, telling her that she was surrounded by love.
"Know that there is love; there is love in this room," he said.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, the entertainer has previously identified himself as a Christian, and called those who do not believe in God arrogant.
"How do you see all the stars and think there's nothing else out there? It's so incredibly arrogant and pompous. It's amazing that there are people who really believe that. It's unbelievable," Williams told UK's Stylist magazine last year.
The popular singer went on to cast doubt on the convictions of nonbelievers.
"Every person who doubts is another person unconverted to better ways of thinking. So, with no conversation there's no conversion. With no conversion, there's no conviction," he continued. "And with no conviction, there's only confusion ... If you don't believe there is a change that is due to you then you will never, ever find it. Change won't come and tap you on the shoulder. You have to be open for change."
Williams' visit to the church was part of A&E's program Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America. The program will include conversations with family members of victims, community leaders, law enforcement officials and clergy from Charleston, Baltimore, Chicago, and Ferguson, all of which have seen gun violence.