9/11: Columbia's spiritual leaders speak of hope, forgiveness

Sunday, September 11, 2011 | 5:13 p.m. CDT; updated 7:10 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 11, 2011

This weekend, congregants in Columbia's churches and synagogues listened to messages of hope and forgiveness from their spiritual leaders. Here are excepts from a few of the services:

"Most of us cannot name one 9/11 victim, but we know the names of Osama bin Laden and at least two of the other perpetrators, Mohamed Atta and Zacarias Moussaoui. It's sad that their names are burned into our memories, but not any of the innocent who died — the very people we need to remember."

— Rabbi Yossi Feintuch, Congregation Beth Shalom

"It is always a right course of action to evaluate our relationship with God during times of crisis and calamity. When we have an event like 9/11, when we see death and destruction, we must turn to self-examination.  Choose this day not to take an active part in evil. Choose love over hate. Choose to be obedient to God."

— The Rev. Chris Cook, Parkade Baptist Church

"Remembering this anniversary, reading comments online, it's amazing how much fear, hurt and hate is still out there. It has been part of our world for the past 10 years. But I want to share something. For the past 10 years, God has been with us. God’s light lets us know that even in the midst of hard times, of tragedy, there is hope.”

— The Rev. Kevin Shelton, Community United Methodist Church

"Forgive. Forgive. If we hold onto hatred, all we do is perpetuate fear and hatred. As we remember victims and families of 9/11, let us not remember in anger but rather in grief. Forgiveness, like grief, is a process, but through forgiveness healing can be found."

— The Rev. Thomas Saucier, Sacred Heart Catholic Church

“When we forgive someone, we’re not saying what you did was OK. We’re saying what you did was wrong, but I’m going to forgive you anyway. When we do forgive others, we take away that power they have over us. When we forgive them, we release that and they no longer have power to make us hurt. “

— The Rev. Simon Felix Michalski, St. Thomas More Newman Center

“Forgiveness is not saying what happened didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not probation. Forgiveness is not minimizing what happened. Forgiveness is a huge issue. The beginning of the issue of forgiveness is reality, coming to grips with what is true. We know the world is broken. What changes is how we feel about it.”

— The Rev. Richard Ramsey, First Presbyterian Church

"Lord, we remember those who gave their lives on that day to save others. God, we thank you for such a heroic sacrifice, and we remember those who lived with that loss for these 10 years, and we ask that especially on this day you would comfort them."

— The Rev. Tim Morris, Alive in Christ Lutheran Church

"I’ve heard people say that God causes evil things to happen so we can learn from it and make us stronger. That’s not true. While we certainly learn from evil in our lives, and while certainly things that go bad can make us stronger, that doesn’t mean that God caused that evil. God is all-loving."

 — The Rev. Brian Hajicek, Fairview Road Church of Christ

“The path of compassion, of suffering with another means for all of us to find ways to promote our values while shunning the path of scorn and ridicule and disdain. Easy to say, harder to practice.”

— The Rev. Suzanne Spencer, Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia

"Today we honor those who sacrificed their lives, as well as those who every day put it on the line to honor our country and our state. We all can remember where we were that day — our feelings of terror, fear and the sadness that came upon us. We ask you to pray for our country, pray for our nation and pray for safety for those who can't be here and are out there serving us."

— The Rev. Joseph Kline, Faith Baptist Church

"Today we remember the 10-year anniversary of a tragedy that struck our country in 2001. But in the midst of it all, when the smoke cleared, God has allowed us to still be here. In New York, we encourage them. In Washington D.C. we encourage them. In Pennsylvania we encourage them. And Father God, for this country, we encourage this president."

The Rev. Lester Woods, Urban Empowerment

"War is not the way. We ended up creating multiple enemies in our attempt to protect ourselves. God asks us to share the grace of embrace to others, to strangers and even to those who are different. The least we could do as Christian followers is to lead the lives Jesus Christ died to save.”

— The Rev. Heather Entrekin, First Baptist Church

"Ten years ago, we stood in disbelief. We wept. We prayed. Ten years ago, our hearts ached. Ten years ago, our heroes rose from the ashes. Today we pray for the leaders of our nation and our world. Hope is strong. Faith lies in God. Love knows no boundaries."

— The Rev. Kevin Glenn and congregation, Memorial Baptist Church

“We choose peace, and we choose help in the time when despair is the expected choice. Go and use your hands and hearts to remember this day.”

The Rev. Molly Moore, Missouri United Methodist Church

Bari Bates, Lindsey Armentrout, Kate Everson, Caitlin Sole, Crystal Herber, Julia Boudreau, Lauren Quick, Cho Ling Ngai, Heather Riske,  Elizabeth Gallaway, McKenzie Kramer, Rikki Byrd and Hannah Burkett contributed to this story.

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