People all over the country found many ways to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this past month. Expressing our unity and exploring the profound meaning of healing, hope and forgiveness was the theme for those who gathered at St. Mark’s Lutheran by the Narrows on Sunday evening September 11th, 2011.
The prayer service was planned by an interfaith group of Pierce County religious leaders. Attendees came from as far as Shoreline, Kirkland, Olympia and Auburn as well as from Tacoma. In all, about 150 people were in attendance. Host Pastor, Rev. Jan Ruud of St. Marks described the experience as “a strong affirmation of the unity we share that is at the heart of all our faith.”
The event began with a social opportunity to watch the film, The Power of Forgiveness, directed by Martin Doblmeier. This film is a multifaceted documentary on forgiveness and the power of healing. It includes stories and interviews with people from many faith traditions. One of the most poignant moments for the audience that evening at St. Mark’s was the story of two women who lost their sons on 9/11: one, presumably the mother of a man who died in the towers; the other, the mother of one of the men who executed the attacks. The movie set the stage for open dialogue between diverse faith communities who talked together over a simple soup supper. “What was evident in the readings [different religious scriptures] that took place as we gathered was the common ground we share in our relationship with God – and peace is at the source of that,” reflected Pastor Ruud.
Turan Kayaoglu, Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Washington Tacoma attended the gathering with his family. “As an American of Muslim background, the hospitality I received humbled me,” noted Professor Kayaoglu. “ I was also moved with what I saw: people from diverse faith backgrounds are coming together to pray for healing but also to reflect on the ways of social action for justice, equality, and charity to combat the source of evil at its origins in poverty, despair, and ignorance. It is extremely significant that people of faith are coming together to show solidarity by bringing what is dearest to them – their prayers. Even the mere act of coming together under a House of God is an important testament for how the people of faith embrace each other.”
“Faith communities coming together beyond the interfaith worship and readings to open up dialogue about challenging problems we face was a part of the design for the event,” remarked Rabbi Bruce Kadden of Temple Bethel, one of the planners of the gathering. “In our community, we are gifted to have many faith leaders that care deeply about these issues.”
On November 22, 2011 we hope you will consider joining us in Associated Ministries annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service. The service will be at Christ Episcopal in Tacoma at 7pm.