A church service on Saturday will memorialize those who lost their lives following the 2005 Graniteville train derailment.


The public is welcome to attend Bethlehem Baptist Church in Graniteville, 271 Bethlehem Circle, for the eighth annual Train Derailment Memorial Program at 3 p.m.


Pastor Dr. James Abraham said he believes the service is important to the family of the victims, the survivors and the community because it helps them move past the tragic event, not rehash it.


“The service helps to give them strength, to move on. For some people, just to even talk it, causes fear,” he said. “We'll also say to the first responders again how much we appreciate their work.”


Church and unity choirs will perform, and community leaders and church officials will offer prayer and words of encouragement.


Nine people were killed on Jan. 6, 2005, when a Norfolk Southern train derailed in downtown Graniteville, releasing a cloud of chlorine gas.


Over 5,000 residents within a mile of the crash site were forced to evacuate for nearly two weeks while HAZMAT teams and cleanup crews decontaminated the area.


Abraham said at one point the church and the Graniteville Coalition thought about discontinuing the memorial service, but they realized how much it means to people.


“The service has evolved to a more jubilant type of service,” he said. “We let the families members know their loved ones are not forgotten.”


For more information, call Elease Mathis at 215-1805 or 663-3835 or the church at 663-4052.