Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering a Day of Remembrance and Hope

Revised. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make today's Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Hope such a powerful, moving success. The church was full of people from all over Easton, the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Many people saw the service live on the web.

Here is a sample of some of the local media coverage of the event as well as the many memorials, remembrances and tributes around the Lehigh Valley.

There were two reports of the service on WFMZ-TV, one version is here.

The Easton Patch had this photo array of the service and other Easton events, including the City of Easton's Tribute to First Responders, which included a performance by the same members of the Metropolitan Opera chorus that performed at Trinity, accompanied by Dale Grandfield.

The Easton Express-Times at had this print story about the observances in the area including this:

The service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton was filled with song and prayer. Members of the New York City Metropolitan Opera, a chamber orchestra and the Easton Area High School choir serenaded the audience. Local religious leaders representing Jews, Christians and Muslims read from their holy books. One of the leaders, Rizwan Butt, who was representing the Easton Phillipsburg Muslim Association, read passages from the Quran in Arabic then in English.

At the beginning of the service, two column-like candles were lit in memory of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

In an open letter to those who attended, Trinity Episcopal Church's the Rev. Andrew Gerns reflected on the people who chose good on Sept. 11 and those who chose evil.

"Many thousands of other people chose without prompting the good ... and helped keep descending evil from overwhelming us all," Gerns wrote. "We remember all of them today."

The Express-Times put the number in attendance at 150, but we counted closer to 300 based on the number of filled pews and candles and programs given out.

The Morning Call's web-site has a number of photographs from the Interfaith Community Service of Remembrance and Hope. If you go to this link, you will see the photo array. Slides taken at the service are numbers 17-26

Photo 26 shows the Easton Area High School Choir performing.

Photo 17 shows Rob Maher, Trinity's next door neighbor, performing with the members of the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera.

One of my personal favorites is number 22, which shows Rabbi Melody David, of Temple Covenant of Peace, and Rabbi Jonathan Gerard lighting two candles of remembrance at the start of the liturgy.

The service marked our first experiment in live web-casting the service. While only a few people viewed the whole prelude and service, we estimate that 50-60 people tuned in for at least a portion of the event. You can go to this site to see an archive of the event. The actual service starts about 26 minutes into the broadcast.

This post was very helpful in getting the word out. It was made a few days before the event and appeared on laini's little pocket guide.

The idea for the service started to take shape a year ago for Father Andrew Gerns, rector at Trinity Episcopal.

“I was, frankly, appalled at some of the hateful rhetoric that was flying around the Ground Zero Mosque controversy,” he said.

He realized that steps needed to be taken to avoid having fear and hate become the focal points of the 10th anniversary. So he began talking with members of his congregation and other area religious leaders to make plans for an appropriate event that would integrate elements of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths into one service. Everyone will come together Sunday for the culmination of their efforts. The service begins at 2 p.m., with an organ prelude starting at 1:30.

In addition to Trinity Episcopal Church of Easton, the following congregations are taking part in the service: Bnai Abraham Synagogue, College Hill Presbyterian Church, First United Church of Christ of Easton, First Presbyterian Church of Easton, St. John’s Lutheran Church of Easton, Temple Covenant of Peace and The Easton-Phillipsburg Muslim Association.

We had a photographer present and as soon as those pictures are ready, they will be posted on the parish's web site with a link to this blog.

The picture above was taken by Terry Gangaware, a member of our parish. A few of the runners from the VIA/LVHN marathon that went from Allentown to Easton--and which was wrapping up just as our service began-- ran over the Trinity, Easton to pay their respects. We appreciate how they brought these two important community events together.

To all the members of the Music & Arts Committee which organized the event, all the volunteers, the clergy and religious leaders who took part and especially to all the singers and musicians...thank you! Not only were the Met Singers and the orchestra great, the EAHS choir was fantastic. God bless you all!

--Father Andrew

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