Bridge victims remembered at service

Published September 4, 2007

An interfaith service of healing was held Aug. 5 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis after the collapse on Aug. 1 of the Interstate 35 West bridge over the Mississippi River. As of Aug. 10, the death toll was eight.

At the service, more than 1,400 people packed the nave, overflowing into the aisles, the narthex, and the side chapel.

Readers and prayer leaders came from the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Native American, and Hispanic communities.

In addition to faith leaders, city and state elected officials were also present. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak both spoke. Representatives of the police, fire department, and other emergency responders were invited to join the procession. Survivors, families, and many others affected by the tragedy also attended.

“Sometimes words that are so comforting for us are said so often that they lose their meaning,” said Mr. Rybak, a member of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. Such is the case, he explained, with the words “Our prayers are with you.” Still, he added, it meant so much to hear those words from all over our country at this tragic time.

“Our city has suddenly become small,” said Rabbi Sim Glaser of Temple Israel, Minneapolis. “When tragedy strikes, there is only one way to turn, and that is to each other, because [God] is in all of us.”

Shashikant Sane of the Hindu Society noted that the prayers at the Hindu temple were still continuing. “If a bridge made of iron and steel and cement can fall down,” said Hamdy El-Sawaf of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council, “then a human bridge of faith, trust, confidence, and hope must be established.”


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