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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2006 Archives > September-October 2006 > 9/11: Memories, Questions, Hopes

Participants in a Sept. 11 remembrance service at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in New York City pause for a moment of silence. JOHN GOODWIN / UMNS
9/11: Memories, Questions, Hopes

by Susan Passi-Klaus

On Sept. 11, 2006, the world will awaken to a deafening number of moments of silence.

Hundreds of thousands of internal human clocks will whisper “remember” at 8:46 a.m. and 9:02 a.m. – the moments the two jets piloted by terrorists hit New York City’s Twin Towers. Memories will be jogged as the news media replay the events that left 3,051 children without a parent, and 1,609 spouses without their beloved; that filled 2,819 caskets with the bodies of sons and daughters, lovers, best friends, co-workers and hometown heroes.

Prayer services and rock concerts, art exhibits and political speeches will mark the day; the global calendar is forever engraved with the date.

Several United Methodist leaders with unique connections to Sept. 11, 2001, shared their thoughts as the fifth anniversary approaches.

The Rev. Terry Bradfield, deputy general secretary, operations, General Council on Finance and Administration, Nashville, Tenn.
The Rev. Terry Bradfield

In 2001, the Rev. Terry Bradfield was a U.S. Army chaplain assigned to the Pentagon. In the rescue and recovery days following the attack, he served on the “Chain of Dignity.” His post was inside the mortuary van.

“I cannot make sense out of 9/11. I can’t understand a soul that is connected to God, in however God is described, thinking that that was the right thing to do. ... That day has unleashed such a sense of evil, of wanting to seek revenge, a huge anger that is not allowing people who are created in the image of God ... to reach into that reservoir of love and hope that should be our source and find solutions to the problems that we’re facing now. I just would like for this day to be transformed into a day of peace instead of a day of savagery.”


The Rev. Bruce Robbins, senior pastor, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis
The Rev. Bruce Robbins

While watching television accounts of the attack in a Denver hotel room, the Rev. Bruce Robbins, then general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, worked with his executive committee to urge United Methodists to exercise restraint and not blame one community of faith for the actions of a small group.

“I recommit myself to a sense of justice towards people of other faith communities and to being very careful not to blame things on other groups for religious reasons.”


Bishop Felton May, Dean, Henry R. Kendell Science and Health Mission Center, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Ark.
Bishop Felton May

After news of the attacks reached him, Bishop Felton May stood transfixed, along with members of his staff in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, watching television coverage of the disaster.

“I don’t believe that as a country our government has set into motion preventative measures that would minimize such an event from occurring again, and I don’t believe the government has adequate foreign policies to deal with terrorism. This fifth anniversary amplifies my belief that there should be more conversation, interaction and negotiation with nations that harbor and foster terrorism.”


The Rev. Bryan Hooper, pastor, the United Methodist Church of Hartford (Conn.)
The Rev. Bryan Hooper

The Rev. Bryan Hooper, then associate pastor at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in New York City, and his senior pastor immediately responded by donning their robes and stoles and locating themselves on the sidewalks outside their church.

“The only experience I’ve had that is like 9/11 was the loss of my mother. ... When an anniversary rolls around, you’re still hit by it somehow. That day I’m going to be a little off, and I’m going to have some distractions in my mind and in my heart that might not be entirely conscious. So at the very least, I need to spend a little more time nurturing myself and allowing myself to have the range of experiences that will come up through that grieving process.”

The Rev. Taka Ishii, pastor, First & Summerfield United Methodist Church, New Haven, Conn.
The Rev. Taka Ishii

The Rev. Taka Ishii was pastor of Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church in New York City. A mile from Ground Zero and a block from St. Vincent Hospital, the church quickly became UMCOR’s headquarters for disaster relief.

“For me it will be a day of remembering. The sight of smoke, the horrible smell of burning bodies, rescue workers worshipping in their work boots ... people from all over the world sending us thousands of banners, postcards and letters. But most of all, I will remember that we opened the doors of the church, and people came inside to pray. Those doors have remained open ever since.”


Worship Resources for Remembrance

* “Our Hope, If We Will Find It, Is In Christ” is a new hymn for use in services commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy.

* “An Interfaith Prayer for the Peoples of Israel, Palestine and Lebanon.”

Other worship resources are available at

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