Archive for Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Struggling for answers amid terror

September 19, 2001

People haven't just been turning to President Bush or other high-ranking government officials this past week.

Men, women and children have continued to stream into churches, in Baldwin City and across the nation, struggling for answers, searching for peace and trying to understand the terror that has gripped the nation.

Last Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., have left people filling churches and other places of worship trying to comprehend what many thought would never happen in America.

"People want to hear that God is still in the midst of everything that's happening," Nanette Roberts, pastor of First United Methodist Church, said. "They want to believe there is still hope that we will come to a resolution even when we don't understand what that resolution is yet."

Roberts said her congregation almost doubled in size for Sunday's services because of the recent national tragedy. There are several reasons, she said, more people are going to church and attending special prayer services.

"Above all, people are really wanting to help, but because we are so far away, they turn to prayer," she said. "They believe in prayer, the healing power of prayer."

Mark Halford, pastor of New Life Assembly of God, said he had also seen a large number of people turning to prayer.

"People are looking for comfort," he said. "Last Friday, there was even an individual who was passing through town and he just stopped in for a couple of minutes to pray."

Ira DeSpain, Baker University's minister, said people are also turning to church to try to gain some understanding of the recent events.

"They are trying in their own minds to make sense of what happened," DeSpain said. "People are searching for answers and they are turning to their faith."

He said he has seen an increase in the number of people coming to him for one-on-one counseling or personal time.

"It's been over and above the number of normal in-office counseling sessions," he said. "It's been a sort of spiritual wake-up call."

Roberts said people have also looking for some sense of stability.

"When a situation like the terrorist attacks happen, people feel out of control," she said. "So they turn to church looking for a little bit of peace."

There is also comfort, she said, in worshipping together as a large group.

"There is a gratefulness to come together and be a family," Roberts said. "What the terrorists wanted to do was rip us apart, but the church reminds us there is a need to be together."

DeSpain said he also believes it's important for people to be together.

"There's a value of strength in just being together now," he said.

The need for finding comfort, answers and understanding shouldn't end any time soon, Halford said, and there will be places for people to turn.

"The churches in the area will be open to minister and to care for people in an environment where they can be loved and comforted," he said.

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