Sunday morning marks the first worship service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston since Dylann Roof, 21, sat among a Bible study group and opened fire after saying that he targeted them because they were black, authorities said.

Among the nine killed was the church pastor, the Rev Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

Events to show solidarity are planned throughout the city today and beyond, including the synchronised ringing of church bells at 10 am local time.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and her family were to attend the service at Emanuel.

Despite grim circumstances, the welcoming spirit that Roof exploited before the shooting is still alive, church members said.

Harold Washington, 75, expects the sanctuary to host even more newcomers after one shattered the group's sense of peace and security.

Church leaders will try to address the heavy psychological burdens parishioners bring with them. An hour before service, people lined up outside the church.

On the nearby Arthur Ravenel Bridge, people are expected to join hands in solidarity this evening.

Unity Church of Charleston the Rev Ed Kosak said delivering Sunday morning's sermon would be emotionally taxing but he felt empowered by the strength and grace that Emanuel members have shown.

Latest News from World News Desk