At noon on September 11 the chapel of the Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive was filled with people who didn’t know the fate of loved ones, and people who could not get home, as Manhattan was sealed off. We sang “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” “Precious Lord,” “When the Storms Are Raging.” The Interchurch Center and the Metro Synod office of the ELCA remained open as an emergency shelter. In the chapel I asked people to name folks on their hearts and in their concern. The chapel rang out with the precious names of loved ones working in lower Manhattan, the names of fire and police personnel.
We prayed for our neighborhoods and that the aftershocks would not set us against one another. I reminded the group of the Christmas service in Brooklyn, when Jewish and Arab leaders prayed at Salaam Arabic Lutheran Church for each other and then worked with young people in the neighborhood to bring peace from street violence.
Stephen Paul Bouman is executive director of Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and author of Grace All Around Us: Embracing God's Promise in Tragedy and Loss.