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United Methodists to mark Sept 11 in various ways

NASHVILLE – Everyone knows the date. Nine eleven. Nine one one. A day that left an indelible mark on America’s psyche. A day of horror, fear, anger, sorrow.

As the anniversary of the terrorist attacks approaches, United Methodists across the country and around the world are planning to commemorate the day in various ways.

“Sept 11 memorial services will set the anniversary remembrance in the context of faith – the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus,” said the Rev James McGraw, Pastor of John Street United Methodist Church in Lower Manhattan. “This will be a eucharistic remembrance of the lives lost, sacrifices made and hope still present in our faith in Christ Jesus.”

United Methodist bishops have encouraged congregations to set aside Sunday, Sept 8, as a day of remembrance, and proclaimed September “United Methodist Open House Month”.

The request for the bishops’ actions came from Igniting Ministry staff at United Methodist Communications, which established Open House Month in 2001 to coincide with the debut of the denomination’s TV advertising effort. A church TV spot called “Amen”, prepared in remembrance of the tragedy, will air twice on NBC’s “The Today Show” on Sept 11.

Interpreter magazine, the official programme journal of the UMC, has provided a list of United Methodist resources addressing the complexity of the events of Sept 11 and their aftermath. At the request of the UMC’s Council of Bishops, the magazine created the guide to assist United Methodists in planning services and continuing responses to the tragedy.

Many congregations will offer their facilities as community gathering places to remember the terrorist attacks and to pray for wisdom, comfort, healing, peace and recovery. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has developed services of remembrance, prayer resources, and hymns and music for commemorating Sept 11.

Near Ground Zero, John Street United Methodist Church will host the New York Annual Conference’s Remembrance Service on Sept 11. The church, two blocks from the former World Trade Center towers, will also be recognised for its role in the recovery efforts. The building was covered in soot and dust after the towers fell.

In the days and weeks that followed the attacks, the Rev James R. McGraw, the Pastor, offered petitions to God from the altar. Those petitions have been published in a book, “Prayers From Ground Zero”.

In Pennsylvania, a memorial service will be held at the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. Somerset County officials will conduct the service in honour of the 40 passengers and crew members that died. The service, planned for the anniversary, will be conducted near the crash site in rural Stonycreek Township. A makeshift memorial there has attracted visitors from around the world.

During the service, a bell of remembrance will be rung, and similar bells will be sounded at crash sites in Arlington, Virginia, and New York City at 10-second intervals in memory of each person who died at those locations.

Churches, universities and colleges in various cities will also be conducting memorial services and special events. – United Methodist News Service.

Linda Green is a news writer with United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tennessee.