As the world remembers the tragic events of September 11, 2001, religious leaders paused to reflect on the day five years ago when more than 2,750 people perished after the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, recalled the day in a reflection on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day.
Williams was at Trinity Church, Wall Street, two blocks away from the World Trade Center, at 8:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001, when the first plane struck the north tower.
"Desperate tragedy, trauma and shock bring us close to strangers," Williams said. "That doesn't make what happens good or explainable, it doesn't take away the responsibility of those who did the damage or heal the grief of the bereaved.
"But for the rest of us, the connection is made, with our own humanity and the humanity of others. And the question for all of us is: 'what do we need, to help us build on those moments of reconnection, so that we don't lose sight of that naked vulnerability we share as human beings, so that we don't forget about what we finally have in common with each other?'"
Read the full text of Williams' reflection
Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold called on all people to commit to "a future in which the events of that day will not be repeated."
In a video statement, also available as audio or podcast, Griswold says: "I can think of no better way to observe the passage of five years since the horrific events of September 11, 2001 than to commit ourselves, individually, as a church, and as a nation to looking for new ways to pursue healing and restoration in the world God so loves."
Griswold also upholds the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals as giving the governments of the world a clear and workable plan for addressing "the vast disparity between the wealth of nations ... and the extreme poverty of nearly half of the world's people."
Video and audio streams of Griswold's statement.
Full text in English
The Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), said that the horror of 9/11 "still stings" and insisted that "we must take a higher road, breaking cycles of violence and pursuing peace. In this way we will truly honor the memory of those who died on September 11, 2001."
An NCC news article
President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, attended a September 10 memorial service at St. Paul's Chapel, the historic Episcopal church located near Ground Zero that operated a volunteer-driven relief effort in the months following the tragic events of September 11.
ERD remembers September 11 five years later
[Source: Episcopal Relief and Development] Five years ago today, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and Pentagon in Virginia, killing nearly 3,000 people. Immediately after the disaster, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) responded, providing food and other supplies to rescue workers at Ground Zero. In the initial days, months and years that followed, ERD supported families directly affected by the tragedy and people indirectly impacted, including low-income and undocumented workers who lost their jobs.
ERD's assistance also trained chaplains who offered trauma counseling. The Interfaith Education Initiative, a joint project between ERD and the Episcopal Church's Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, provided a curriculum and educational resources to further interfaith understanding and cross-cultural dialogue.
Today, ERD continues its commitment to long-term rebuilding following the September 11 tragedy.
"As we mark the fifth year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, ERD remembers those who perished on September 11 as well those who conducted one of the most heroic rescues operations in history," said Robert W. Radtke, ERD's president.
Working in partnership with the New York Disaster Interfaith Services, ERD is supporting interfaith education and recovery programs which include dialogues and interagency support that promotes interfaith understanding, tolerance, and conflict resolution.
"ERD has been a visionary partner, ensuring people affected by 9/11 are given appropriate support and access to resources including case management," said Peter Gudaitis, executive director and CEO for New York Disaster Interfaith Services. "ERD's support has focused on the unmet needs [such as mental health and pastoral care] of under-resourced communities in New York City, including survivors, families and injured recovery workers. The partnership has benefited 1,000 families each year since 2001."
"September 11 underscores that the importance of being prepared for disasters is critical," said Richard Ohlsen, ERD's director of Domestic Disaster Response and Preparedness. "ERD's work with dioceses across the country is helping to build a disaster preparedness program so they can respond quickly and effectively if and when a disaster occurs."