International faith services mark 10th anniversary of 9/11

Published September 9, 2011

Faith communities in Canada and around the world are marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks in the United States with commemorative services, concerts and other events.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed on that day when hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. A fourth plane aimed at the U.S. capital slammed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered their hijackers.

The Episcopal Church and other religious leaders in the U.S. have announced plans to host inter-faith activities focusing on peace, healing and reconciliation during the Sept. 10-11 weekend.

“The greatest memorial to those who died 10 years ago will be a world more inclined toward peace,” said U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in an Aug. 18 statement. On Sunday, Sept. 11, Bishop Jefferts Schori will preach at a 7:30 a.m. service at St. Paul’s Chapel, a few meters from where the World Trade Centre once stood. She will also preach at an 11 a.m. service at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

The Washington National Cathedral has planned a three-day commemoration that will culminate with the tolling of the 12-ton funeral bell at the exact time that the planes hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and the field. U.S. President Barack Obama will speak at the Cathedral during a “Concert for Hope” scheduled that evening.

In Great Britain, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will preside at a special eucharist service at 11 a.m. in Canterbury Cathedral. Preaching at the service will be the Rev. Jamie Callaway from Trinity Wall Street in New York, who was with Archbishop Williams in a building just 100 yards from the Twin Towers at the time of the 2001 attacks.

Earlier on Sunday, Archbishop Williams will be a guest on BBC Radio 2’s “Good Morning Sunday” show at 8 a.m. to offer his reflections on the tragedy.

In Canada, the United Church has compiled worship resources, including a special prayer that congregations and individuals can use to commemorate 9/11.

Some churches and faith groups are also planning inter-faith services. Representatives of the Jewish, Sikh and Anglican communities will gather at St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Richmond, B.C., for a service of song, prayers and readings of different faith traditions. “On this anniversary we want to pause and reflect together, worship God together, and, in hope, move forward together trusting in God’s ever-present power to reconcile and heal,” said organizers of the event in their media release.

At the Eden United Church in Meadowvale, Mississauga, Ont., religious leaders will gather for a multi-faith service titled, From Tragedy to Trust. The event, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will remember the victims of 9/11 and honour the work of firefighters, police and others involved in rescue, relief and recovery efforts.

The Anglican diocese of Huron is publicizing the performance of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, A Mass for Peace, by Fanshawe Chorus London, the Gerald Fagan Singers and the Concert Players Orchestra on Sept. 11, 3 p.m., at the Centennial Hall in London, Ont.  Commissioned by the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Britain’s oldest national museum, The Armed Man is an anti-war piece that incorporates text from religious and historical sources including Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the Islamic all to prayer, the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, and a Hiroshima survivor’s reflections.

In Australia, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, will host an interfaith service at 4 pm on Sept. 11 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Participants will include leaders from the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches in the U.S. has reposted on its website  a sampling of the messages of support and concern that it received from churches and ecumenical organizations worldwide following the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.  The messages show how people of faith “struggled to find appropriate ways to respond to the tragedy,” said the NCC’s website.


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