After a gunman opened fire during a Bible study meeting this summer – killing the pastor and eight other people – Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has received donations and offers of support from far and wide.
But Rose McGee of Golden Valley, Minnesota, knew something was missing.
"You're getting money, you're getting visitors and all this, but I said 'they ain't getting any sweet potato pie,'" McGee told South Carolina TV station WLTX.
So McGee set about changing that.
She pulled together 20 helpers and started baking pies in a church basement. This week McGee and 56 sweet potato pies were special guests at Mother Emanuel's Bible study meeting, WCBD reports.
Rose is returning to Minnesota, but the "comfort pies" aren't. The folks at Mother Emanuel tell WCBD they were delicious.
Rose McGee is the founder of Deep Roots Gourmet Desserts in the Twin Cities. She's also the author of an essay entitled "Can't Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama." (It includes the recipe that's been passed down through at least four generations.)
McGee told KARE 11: "As far as I am concerned, it's the sacred dessert of black culture, a comfort sweet potato pie, which means when you have this, it just soothes the soul."
WLTX says McGee and her Minnesota cohorts went through 240 pounds of sweet potatoes in making the comfort pies. KARE says the cost of shipping them to Charleston was expected to be at least $1,000 – a cost the Golden Valley Community Foundation was planning to cover.
The Facebook page Sweet Potato Comfort Pies chronicles the project.
Mother Emanuel's recovery from what happened in June is a work in progress. But it seems to be progressing a little more sweetly thanks to the comfort pies from Minnesota.
The interim pastor, Rev. Norvel Goff, told WCBD: "I think the journey is still a long ways off, but the good news is that we are not on this journey by ourselves.”