From St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan to L.A.'s Cathedral Center, Episcopal church sites across the nation opened their doors this past weekend for prayer and liturgies marking the third anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
In an effort to assist the healing process, highlights of these memorial observances -- and those of the past three years -- will soon be added to a section of the Episcopal News Service Web site (www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_6129_ENG_HTM.htm) for ongoing reference.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, preaching Sunday at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, underscored the importance of compassion as the healing process continues: "Three years ago, on the fourteenth of September ... our visit to the scene of the devastation took us by St. Paul's Chapel," he said. "Though only a block away from the World Trade Center no damage had been done, not even a pane of glass had been broken ... I knew in that moment that beyond anything I could think or feel or do there was Another whose compassion and mercy were able to embrace it all, and that it was only in the power of that embrace that we, and our world, would be able to find the way forward." The full text of the sermon can be found online at: www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_50505_ENG_HTM.htm.
In New York Saturday, St. Paul's Chapel and Trinity Church Wall Street continued their ministries of hospitality and spiritual support as family members gathered nearby at Ground Zero for memorial services remembering those killed when planes were flown into the Twin Towers, causing their collapse.
The historic chapel of St. Paul, downtown Manhattan's oldest building in continuous use, commemorated with a Taizé service of remembrance, and prayers for peace and healing. The service of remembrance paused for a ringing of the Bell of Hope in the chapel's churchyard at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane hit the World Trade Center towers.
In Washington, D.C., President George W. Bush and Laura Bush attended a prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, near the White House. The church's rector, the Rev. Luis Leon, reportedly told Bush that "part of his role is to be chaplain to this nation" adding that "hatred is not the answer" in responding to the terrorist attacks.
A memorial service was also held at the Pentagon and the customary noon Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral was enhanced to remember the events of 2001. Durng the sermon, Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington insisted that "God didn't desert us or the nation on September 11. God was there in the ashes and the horror of it all," adding that "God is with us poking and prodding us to think beyond revenge and war and reminding us in the tradition of great religions to love one another as God loves us. That is the only hope for humanity."
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a Service of Remembrance was held in the field where Flight 93 crashed three years earlier. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton was in attendance, as well as other county, state and federal officials. The service honored the memory of the 40 passengers and crew members aboard the flight who died in their successful struggle to prevent the plane from being flown to Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City, about 50 people sat in circles around three candles, signifying the three years that have passed since the terror attacks. Participants offered prayers and words of compassion for the victims of terror.
And in Los Angeles, "9/11: Healing Journeys for Local & Global Justice," a coordinated series of marches from four points in Los Angeles, converged at MacArthur Park in the historic Westlake area of the city for music, art and sacred ritual.
The event was sponsored by ICUJP (Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace), of which the Diocese of Los Angeles is a member. Other sponsoring organizations included All Saints Church, Pasadena; the Institute for Urban Renewal & Development (IURD), a diocesan institution; Mama's Hot Tamales Café, a restaurant and training facility established by IURD in the MacArthur Park area; the Regas Institute, founded by former All Saints rector George Regas; and many other religious and community groups.
Nearby at Pasadena's Hillsides Home for Children, an Episcopal institution serving at-risk youth and their families, the Lynn Angell Memorial Library was the scene for quiet remembrance of the dedicated and beloved volunteer librarian who helped young residents with everything from homework to health care. Angell and her husband, David -- producer of the popular "Frasier" and "Wings" television series -- died aboard Flight 11 bound for Los Angeles from Boston.