Worship centers open doors

BY HEATHER MOYER | CAMBRIDGE, MA | September 11, 2001

"This (tragedy) has a lot of dimension that will require lots of thought and work -- this will take a long time to digest."

—Rev. Phil Wogaman

Despite many businesses and state agencies closing their doors after the terrorist acts, churches and worship centers from all faiths are opening their doors for people to come pray, talk, and cope.

Rev. Mary Luti of First Church Congregational in Cambridge, MA, said her church along with all the others in their area have been open all day for people. Luti said people have come in to pray and to receive counseling. They're also planning a prayer vigil with all the other nearby churches tonight at 7:30. Luti said they're working on their response to the disasters one step at a time.

"We're attending to the immediate sense," said Luti. "(People) are not only expressing a huge sorrow, but also a fear of what's to come. Our first response is to gather people together."

Luti said she's also waiting for the local connections to appear, which people she'll counsel or talk to who will either know or be related to those who lost their lives in the terrorism tragedies today.

In Washington, DC, Foundry United Methodist Church has its doors open as well. Rev. Phil Wogaman of Foundry UMC said he got stuck on the subway earlier in the day, after a plane crashed into the Pentagon and the city shut down the subway services at that location.

He went up to the ground level and saw huge crowds of people standing around, with expressions of shock on their face as they watch the plumes of black smoke come from the Pentagon. After that, he walked the 4 miles back to his church to make sure he was there.

"My secretary said she had been (at the church) all day," said Wogaman. "She said when she went outside to watch the huge stream of people being evacuated, many came up to her to stand and say 'I just wanted to be near someone from the church right now.'"

Wogaman said he's seen people come in and out of the church to pray since he returned. "We're trying to be responsive in every way that we can," he said. "This (tragedy) has a lot of dimension that will requires lots of thought and work -- this will take a long time to digest."

Islamic communities of faith are responding to today's catastrophes as well.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a release today condemning the terrorism and urging Islamic communities around the US to do everything in their power to help -- everything from donating blood to offering medical help to relief agencies.

But Islamic communities are also wary of the backlash that may occur after today's tragedies. The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) has had their doors open all day today for prayer, and they're still planning on having their sunset prayers tonight, but they're also urging people to stay at home because of the security concerns. "We'll continue to pray and encourage others to pray," said an ISB worker who declined to be named. "But we are also more concerned now."

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