Nation in prayer

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | September 14, 2001

""I felt like it couldn't be real, like it was a movie. I still feel that way."

Church bells pealed Friday

as the nation observed a day of prayer and remembrance

for the thousands lost in Tuesday's attacks.

In the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, in

countless local churches nationwide, in their cars

sitting in snarled traffic, people prayed.

There are too few stories of lives that were spared. One

Connecticut resident who works in the World Trade Center

said he was on vacation when the planes crashed into the

towers. "Our offices were in the second tower, and the

plane hit near our floor."

Miraculously, all his colleagues survived. "I think it's

because we put an emergency plan in place after the 1993

bombing. People got out fast."

He was leaving Williamsburg, VA Tuesday morning when he

heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade

Center. "I felt like it couldn't be real, like it was a

movie. I still feel that way."

He spent Friday driving back to Connecticut but said

that doesn't mean he didn't participate in the day of

prayer and remembrance. "All I can do is think about

it," he said.

He will report back to work on Monday at temporary

offices his company set up as part of its emergency

plan. That will be the first time he will see his

surviving colleagues. "At first I just thought everyone

I worked with was dead. It seemed like they had to be. I

didn't even want to call their families to find out."

Others are finding out their connections to the

thousands of missing people. Johnny Wray, who

coordinates Week of Compassion, a giving program

coordinated through the Christian Church (Disciples of

Christ), said that many churches have families that have

been impacted by the horrific events. "We learned that

the son of a family in Community Christian Church in

North Canton, OH worked in the World Trade Center and is

missing. Also, Park Avenue Christian Church in New York

reports a parent from their day care program is

missing," he said.

Wray said he had many calls from people who want to

help. He echoed other disaster response leaders with the

message that cash donations are best. "We have received

very strong messages from both NY and DC that clothes,

food, and other material goods are not needed and if

people are collecting them, please do not send them," he


Church World Service (CWS) issued an appeal for funding

from its member communions. CWS mobilized its national

network of volunteer disaster consultants, and is

working with local interfaith committees and helping

establish new interfaith committees that will offer

pastoral care and address long-term recovery needs. CWS

will also provide training in pastoral care to pastors

and other caregivers, and is providing support to the

Church of the Brethren's Child Care Aviation Incident

Response (CAIR) teams that give childcare and emotional

support to children of the families and victims of

aviation disasters.

CWS was also assessing specific needs of people who

might have been displaced in New York and low-income,

hourly workers who have lost their jobs because of the


Meanwhile response and recovery continues in ways too

numerous to count. Southern Baptist mobile feeding

units, Salvation Army canteens, and American Red Cross

teams are offering meals to thousands of emergency

workers. CAIR teams are caring for the children of

families impacted by the plane crashes. And groups of

trained pastoral counselors from many denominations are

offering spiritual support to families in need.

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