From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
New York Methodists gather in service of hope, remembrance
Mon, 17 Sep 2001 15:32:55 -0500
Sept. 17, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212) 870-38037New York
NOTE: Photos are available for use with this story.
By Linda Bloom*
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Determined to find hope in the midst of devastation,
United Methodists in the New York area gathered Sept. 16 at Park Avenue
United Methodist Church for prayer, witness and remembrance.
The Rev. William Shillady, Park Avenue's pastor, opened the service's time
of witness about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy. "Regardless of
what it's called or what it's compared to, it's a day the unthinkable
happened," he said.
Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour service, worshippers added names to a
large white cloth that bore the words "In Remembrance Sept. 11, 2001." Six
candles were lit in memory of those who perished, in honor of those who
struggled to help the victims, for guidance for national and world political
leaders, for hope for all humanity, for wisdom from the Lord and in prayer
that "our compassionate God will light our darkness with mercy, grace and
The Rev. James Law, pastor of Chinese United Methodist Church in lower
Manhattan, named Nancy Lee, who sometimes attended the church and was a
sister of the chairwoman of its administrative board, as among the missing.
"I remember Jesus wept when Lazarus was found dead," Law told worshippers
who had crowded into the sanctuary. "If Jesus wept for one individual, I'm
convinced Jesus wept on 9-11."
Law himself was at "ground zero" the day after the blast, ministering to
rescue workers. His crutches attested to injuries he suffered while running
for safety in the dangerous area.
The Rev. James ("K") Karpen, pastor of the Church of St. Paul and St.
Andrew, United Methodist, talked about finding dozens of people at the door
of his church the morning of Sept. 14, as the nation paused to remember the
tragedy. After an impromptu worship service, a Jewish woman clutching a
photograph of a missing man named Matt mistook Karpen for a priest and asked
him to say a "Catholic prayer" for the man, demonstrating how the need for
prayer had transcended any denominational boundaries.
Concern was expressed about blanket discrimination against and even hatred
toward Muslims in the aftermath of the tragedy as well as any retaliatory
actions taken by the government. Postcards prepared by the Church of St.
Paul and St. Andrew were available for mailing to President Bush and Sen.
Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), both fellow United Methodists.
The postcard asked that any response be consistent with the goal of
long-term peace, safety and justice. "We have lost family, friends and
co-workers, innocent people," the postcard concluded. "What a tragedy it
would be if this horrible event should give rise to acts of retaliation
which claimed the lives of innocent people in other nations."
The Rev. Carol Cox, district superintendent for Metropolitan North New York,
urged worshippers to "hear one another's stories" and shared a few of the
many messages of concern and support that the conference had received. "We
are connectional and the e-mails came from every corner of the globe," she
Bishop Ernest Lyght described the "wall of prayer" outside Bellevue
Hospital, where friends and relatives have mounted photographs of people who
remain missing since the Sept. 11 tragedy. Most of the photos show
expressions of happiness and celebration, taken "when the individual in the
picture was filled with joy," he said.
When a reporter asked him what difference he saw between the wall at
Bellevue and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the bishop recalled
the silence he remembered whenever he visited the Vietnam Memorial. At
Bellevue, people are praying, talking and singing. Although it may one day
become a memorial, for now, Lyght said, "The wall at Bellevue Hospital is a
wall of hope."
The bishop defined hope as looking to the future with expectation. "Whether
we live or whether we die, there is always hope in Christ Jesus," he
# # #
*Bloom is director of the New York office of United Methodist News Service.
United Methodist News Service
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