Local community mourns losses

BY LARA BRICKER | GREENLAND, NH | September 13, 2001



"God, even in the rough times is there; he promises support within the pain and difficulty."

—Rev. Louis Drew


Residents across southern New Hampshire flocked to their churches Tuesday and Wednesday to find solace and comfort as they struggled to make sense of the largest act of terrorism in United States history, which has claimed the lives of eight New Hampshire residents.

Thomas McGuinness, 42, of Greenland a husband and father of two was one of two pilots of Boston's American Airlines Flight 11, that was hijacked and forced into one of the World Trade Center towers on Tuesday. His church, the Bethany Church in Greenland, immediately went to the aid of his wife and family when they learned.

"Tom McGuinness was a wonderful father. He was a great husband. He was a loving family man, a member of the Bethany Church and now he is an American hero," said Fred Cheney, the pastor at the Bethany Church, in a statement. "He believes in Jesus Christ."

Rick Decoven, business administrator for the Bethany Church said McGuinness was an active Christian. "We're really going to miss him," said Decoven. "We found out early this morning. We have a number of pilots in the Bethany family. As soon as this happened, we were concerned about our pilots and started making inquiries. When we found out that Tom was flying this morning, we were in contact with the family. All three pastors have been over there today helping the family and the children. They're dealing with it as best as can be expected with this tragedy. Because of their Christian faith, I think they'll be strong through it."

The communities of Hampstead, Plaistow and Atkinson in southern New Hampshire, came together at Saint Anne's Parish, in Hampstead, Tuesday night for a vigil organized by five local churches. For many of the people, the church seemed the only place they could turn for comfort, with the rest of the world seemingly out-of-control.

The next morning, residents in the community of Plaistow learned that Carol Flyzik, 40, was one of the passengers on American Airlines Flight 11.

The First Baptist Church in Plaistow opened their doors Wednesday for anyone who needed to talk, pray or meditate. Many were just learning that one of the 7,000 residents in the small town was killed in the terrorism attack.

"We've had a number of people in here today," said the Rev. Louis Drew. Drew has been trying to instill in people the confidence that God is always present in their lives. "God, even in the rough times is there; he promises support within the pain and difficulty," Drew said. "At some point, some how, we'll be able to make sense of this."

Many people who have talked with Drew have expressed their anger and desire to "blow up" whoever did this. "One of the great challenges in dealing with this, is the urge for revenge," he said. "That's not going to solve the problem. I'm angry too, who wouldn't be. But if that becomes my controlling emotion, then I become the terrorist."

Those at the Hampstead vigil stressed that their faith was their means to get through this crisis.

"God is our strength," said Joanne O'Donnell, of Hampstead. "If you don't have your faith, you don't have much else."

Bob Turner, of Hampstead, attended the service to help him "keep an open mind." "I don't want to be angry," Turner said, adding he was too distressed to watch the news coverage of the attack Tuesday.

The service was peppered with familiar songs and hymns like Amazing Grace and Be Not Afraid. Many who attended said the well-known songs and prayers helped bring them a sense of comfort. "They're songs we've all looked to for inspiration," Andrea Lohnes, of Plaistow, said.

The Rev. Carol E. Atwood-Lyons, the pastor of the Hampstead Congregational Church, read Psalm 23, the words of which people often turn to in times of need. "It is a beautiful song from which we can draw courage and hope," she said.

The Rev. Frederick J. Pennett, the pastor at St. Anne's, led prayers for the victims of the terrorist attack so that "they may receive the healing power of God." He said that we, as Americans, should be grateful for life and freedom. "Let us go forth with resolve into the darkness, let us reach out to those in need, let us pray," Pennett said.

Some, like Alice McLaughlin, of Danville, came to the service to show their support for the country. "I came to pray for America, there's no other words to describe it," McLaughlin said.

Friends Anne Salter and Kay Peva, both of Hampstead, depend on each other since losing their husbands. Both woman said they longed for their husbands Tuesday. "Just to have him with his arms around me," Salter said.

Peva said the songs and prayer Tuesday "helped a little bit." "I thought it was wonderful," Peva said of the service.

Dianna Mealey, of Plaistow, said she believes the terrifying act of terrorism will make many people turn to God and the church to get through. "We've ignored God and we can't do that," Mealey said.

Ellen Widman, of Atkinson, said she hadn't felt such a strong need to pray, as she felt Tuesday, in a long time. She worried about the country's children who are living in this time of terror. "The children, they've lost an innocence," Widman said.

The First Baptist Church in Plaistow opened its doors Wednesday for anyone who needed to talk, pray or meditate. Many were just learning that one of the 7,000 residents in the small town was killed in the terrorism attack.

"We've had a number of people in here today," said the Rev. Louis Drew. Drew has been trying to instill in people the confidence that God is always present in their lives. "God, even in the rough times is there; he promises support within the pain and difficulty," Drew said. "At some point, some how, we'll be able to make sense of this."

Many people who have talked with Drew have expressed their anger and desire to "blow up" whoever did this. "One of the great challenges in dealing with this, is the urge for revenge," he said. "That's not going to solve the problem. I'm angry too, who wouldn't be. But if that becomes my controlling emotion, then I become the terrorist."


Related Topics:

Terrorism wave proves challenging

Counseling, prayers offered in bombing wake

Churches respond to Boston bombings


More links on Terrorism

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