Juneau prays for victims - and peace

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

As weight of Tuesday's tragedy played out hour by hour, many Juneau residents turned to faith and prayer.

Local churches opened their sanctuaries for prayer, and many scheduled special services. At Resurrection Lutheran Church near the Federal Building, about 25 people gathered for a community-wide service late Tuesday afternoon at which the Rev. Paul Beran pointed to God as a place to find security.

"It seemed the tragedy of today came without warning," he said. "We're here to pray - pray for the families, pray for the injured, pray for the nation."

Terri Kennedy, who attended the service, said her reaction to Tuesday's attacks was one of disbelief.

"I think in spite of all that we do in our puny human capacity, there is a power beyond us who makes good of evil things," she said.

Karl Luttig, a preacher who moved to Juneau from Texas two months ago, said the moment of prayer helped.

"It broke my heart to see all those thousands of people got killed because someone hated," he said. "Faith is the anchor of the soul. It gives people something to hope for."

Elaine Kipple doesn't usually attend the First Baptist Church on Twin Lakes but said she was looking for something Tuesday night as she sat in the strange pew.


"My faith in God brought me here," she said. "I came here for unity, and some healing would be nice."

Most of the 20 or so people at the service came in with red eyes, and as they gathered, the congregation united in its sense of loss, confusion and anger.

"I'm afraid for our future," one woman said during the service. "And I'm very sad that my children will never know the same America I did."

The Rev. Jimmie Stringer said he was at a loss planning the service. "I have a lot of books in my office, but none of them tell me how to conduct a service like this."

Stringer often was close to tears during the service, telling parishioners to take solace in prayer.

Though some members showed anger toward the terrorists, the night brought some feelings of forgiveness. Many added Palestinians and the nation of Israel to a prayer list.

Stringer assured people their anger was justified and appropriate but it was equally appropriate to pray for those who may have committed these acts. He also assured them the tragedy was not an act of God.

"What happened today was concrete. It was evil, make no mistake," he said. "And evil does not come from God. God is good and allows humans the freedom of choice. God himself will not violate that. This was not an act of God but an act of 100 percent evil."

At Holy Trinity Episcopal Church downtown, some 25 parishioners and others attended a Prayers for the Nation service at 8 p.m.

The Rev. Rob Bruschi began with The Supplication, a reading he said national church officials have allowed only twice in American history - on D-Day and after Tuesday's attacks.

Bruschi, from the East Coast, mentioned he is still trying to reach relatives who worked in the World Trade Center and in New York fire departments.

Amid prayers for victims, survivors, tolerance and world peace, Bruschi reflected on previous international horrors, referring to the passing of the swastika and the hammer and sickle.

"These terrorists will too find their doom, but the cross will be there," he said.

Empire editor Ed Schoenfeld contributed to this report.

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