Myrna Bethke: Peaceful Pastor
The Rev. Myrna Bethke, 46, lost her youngest brother on Sept. 11, 2001; he worked on the 95th floor of Tower One. Ironically, on her late brother's birthday the United States dropped the first bombs on Afghanistan. Bethke disagreed with returning violence for violence and, instead, found herself longing to do "something" toward forgiveness, restorative justice and reconciliation.
In January 2002, Bethke learned about a group of Sept. 11th survivors called Families for Peaceful Tomorrows who work to prevent their losses from being used as a justification for war. Today Bethke speaks to congregations, church groups, schools, colleges and seminaries. (For booking information, visit [link]www.peacefultomorrows.org)
In June 2002, Bethke, pastor of First Church in Freehold, N.J., joined an interfaith delegation that traveled to Afghanistan to meet with families of victims of U.S. bombings. While there, she shared her story at an interfaith prayer service with Afghan families and she donated $1,000—raised by her congregation and others—to a school in the foothills of Kabul.
In addition to contributing to the newly released book, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows: Turning Our Grief into Action for Peace (RDV Books/Akashic Books, (718) 622-6463), Bethke, a mother of two, urges the United States to remain in Afghanistan to help rebuild the fragile country.
--Heather Peck Stahl, Nashville, Tenn., is a freelance writer and editor.