From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ELCA Leaders' Response Continues in Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks
News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Wed, 12 Sep 2001 16:38:24 -0500
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 12, 2001
ELCA LEADERS' RESPONSE CONTINUES IN AFTERMATH OF TERRORIST ATTACKS
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Pastors and members of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) are working with a variety of organizations in
New York and Washington, D.C., to respond to enormous human needs in the
aftermath of deadly terrorist attacks Sept. 11.
In addition, the ELCA churchwide offices here have received messages of
condolence and concern from churches throughout the world.
The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New
York Synod, said "people are streaming into the churches" in Manhattan.
All ELCA congregations are being used for counseling, he said in a Sept.
12 phone call to the Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop.
The synod has 85,927 members in 227 congregations.
Bouman said he was "frustrated" because he was unable to get into
Manhattan the day after the attack on the World Trade Center, because
most bridges into Manhattan were closed and public transit was
Pastors provided "overwhelming support" to staff at the Lutheran
Medical Center, New York, he said, adding the hospital treated about 40
people yesterday, mostly for smoke inhalation.
Employees with Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Metropolitan New
York are unable to use their facility, Bouman reported. The building is
located within two blocks of the World Trade Center and was damaged when
the towers fell. However, LSS employees are helping to coordinate
disaster relief efforts locally, and hope to coordinate those with
Catholic Charities, he said.
Crisis counseling is foremost among relief concerns, Bouman said.
"Among the things they are tackling is setting up a way for
congregations to provide counselors for children," he said in his call
to Anderson. There is also a considerable need to organize efforts to
locate burial plots, Bouman said.
According to Bouman, no ELCA congregations lost their buildings,
but he expressed concern for Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal Church
congregation and ELCA full communion partner. Trinity's building, three
blocks from the World Trade Center, suffered damage to some windows, but
little structural damage. The building had dust from the collapsed
towers in its lobby, said John Allen, communication director for Trinity
In the early hours following the attacks, Bouman said most of the
people he has encountered need to talk with others about their
experiences on Sept. 11. "People will have a chance to heal if they
just talk," he said.
Wagner College, an ELCA college in Staten Island, N.Y., is
providing care and emotional support to students and staff. Classes
have been canceled Sept. 13-14, and will resume Sept. 17.
LUTHERANS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., 'STILL IN SHOCK'
"It is not a local crisis but a national trauma," said the Rev.
Theodore F. Schneider, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C.,
Synod, about the terrorist attacks.
"We are still in shock, especially at the number of innocent
[people who have died]," Schneider said of the attack on the Pentagon.
"We're still in a state of heightened alert and people remain tense in
[Washington, D.C.]," he added.
The needs of ELCA congregations and pastors in Washington, D.C.,
are hard to determine, Schneider said, adding that pastors and other
church leaders will discuss response efforts and organize a process for
providing pastoral care in a meeting later this week. "We will also
celebrate the Word and Sacrament" at the meeting, he said.
Pastors of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod plan to
write a "pastoral letter" for congregations in the synod, as well as
prepare liturgy and prayers, Schneider said.
There are 39,530 baptized members in 79 congregations in the
Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod, one of the ELCA's 65 synods.
LUTHERANS RESPOND FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop has received numerous
messages from leaders of Lutheran churches around the world, offering
condolences to Lutherans in the United States:
+ "Last night prayer vigils were held in churches all over Iceland
for sharing our grief and expressing our concerns and prayers for the
people of the United States and its leaders." Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Iceland
+ "Our churches have been open for people praying since the
tragedy, and tonight we will conduct an official memorial service for
the victims in the Lutheran Cathedral of Copenhagen led by Bishop Norman
Svendsen in the presence of representatives of the Danish state, the
Queen and the royal family, the Prime Minister and all members of the
government and parliament." Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark
+ "May there be ways to comfort the mourners as well as the
survivors and may the Church be part of that work. May all the deceased
rest in peace." Church of Sweden
+ "Your pain is our pain. We were shocked to watch this
unprecedented act of violence and terrorism. We therefore share your
sadness and sorrow for the loss of so many innocent lives." Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Jordan
+ "May your leaders in church and society have grace to walk with
strength and patient impatience through these difficult times for the
sake of all people and in the name of Christ." Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Canada
+ "Facing your and our powerlessness against such malicious acts
of terror we also seek together with you God's face in our prayers. We
pray for those whose lives were broken once and for all by this
violence." Uniting Protestant Churches in the Netherlands
A variety of resources and statements related to the terrorist
attacks can be found at
http://www.elca.org on the ELCA's Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG
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