Bahai News - Solace Sought In Prayer Southland Houses Of Worship Plan Services, Invoke Faith

Solace Sought In Prayer Southland Houses Of Worship Plan Services, Invoke Faith

People throughout Los Angeles joined the nation in prayer Tuesday for those who were killed, injured or grief-stricken by the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

Across all denominational lines, shocked and saddened people offered their supplications for care and comfort.

"I am horrified and deeply saddened by this morning's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.," said Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles, who issued a prayer dispatch from Washington, D.C., where he was grounded Tuesday.

"Such actions strike at the very heart of our belief in fundamental human rights and the dignity of every person.

"In this time of unprecedented tragedy and fear, we ask God in a special way to pour out his abundant blessing upon all of us, to comfort us, to strengthen us and to bring us together in a spirit of unit and solidarity."

More than 2,000 people gathered Tuesday night at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, the first time such a prayer service had been held there since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, said Associate Pastor Jim Nelson.

Inside the church parishioners exchanged hugs and offered words of comfort to their friends and fellow Christians.

For 29-year-old Van Nuys residents Joe Eddings, just being in his regular house of worship brought a sense of peace and understanding after the devastation he watched unfold on his television.

"All of us here believe in God and that there's a reason, a resolve to what went on, where it's not just sorrow or pain, but there's a destiny to all of this," he said.

Members of the San Fernando Valley's Jewish community were clearly on edge, which many attributed to tensions in the Middle East between Arabs and Jews.

Many synagogues planned services to memorialize those lost in the tragedy - some of them friends - and to rally community faith.

"One of our members' chief financial officer with his company was in the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center," said Rabbi Gershon Johnson of the Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills, which plans a commemorative service at 8 p.m. today. He was referring to Edmund Glazer, 41, chief financial official of the optical network firm, MRV Communications Inc. of Chatsworth.

"This is a dire situation. Thousands of people have died. Life will never be the same as we know it. We must look deep inside and reach out to help our people find faith and courage in this most difficult time."

Many synagogues looked to their children first and foremost, for their safety and their support.

Members of the Adat Ari El synagogue in Valley Village, which has 400 students, were on heightened security alert. Better to have the children in school, officials reasoned, than at home watching horrific events on the news.

"Certainly, it's devastating," said Alan Karpel, executive director of the synagogue, "and we're praying for everyone across the nation. We're certainly taking care of the children."

Aslam Abdullah, vice chairman of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, held a news conference early in the day at the Islamic Center of Southern California to condemn the violence and ask that the government deliver "swift justice" to the perpetrators.

Abdullah said many people have gathered at the center near downtown Los Angeles. "It's a mood of shock," Abdullah said. "It's a second Pearl Harbor."

Several members of Islamic Center attended a noon, multifaith prayer service at the nearby Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Boulevard, organized by pastor Frank Alton.

The hastily arranged multifaith and multiethnic service at Immanuel Presbyterian Church brought many to tears, as passages of different holy books were plumbed for solace and hope.

"As people of faith we wanted those who could come together to find comfort, seek hope and try to find sense in the midst of chaos," said Immanuel Presbyterian pastor Frank Alton, the organizer of the hourlong service.

The Rev. Doei Fujii of the San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple pleaded for calm after Tuesday's terrorist attacks and implored America's leaders to refrain from placing blame until they can get accurate information about the cause of the attacks.

"We usually say: Anger to anger is endless. ... People hate each other and it's endless indeed.

"I feel very sorry for the family members, indeed, who have been victimized in this terrible accident."

People gathered across Southern California on Tuesday night.

Parishioners of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village telephoned the church throughout the day asking for a prayer vigil.

"It's time for us to pull together," Pastor Larry DeWitt told a group of about 600 people who gathered at Calvary Community in the evening.

Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills held an emotional interfaith service including Christians and Muslims.

Kol Tikvah Rabbi Steven Jacobs had gone to Los Angeles International Airport at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning for a flight to New York, but all flights were canceled before he could take off.

"America is under siege, physically and emotionally and we can't bow to insanity and evil," Jacobs told the interfaith gathering Tuesday night.

In Encino, about 70 people gathered at the Bahai Community Center.

"This is painful to a lot of people," said Bahai member Fernando Huerta. "We want to give people a chance to pray for the families and the victims. It's such senseless devastation."

About 1,000 people gathered Tuesday night at Bel Air Presbyterian Church on Mulholland Drive, where they shed tears and asked why this happened.

"We're often asked that question: Why?" said pastor Doug Folsom. "It's a certain mystery in life."

In the Antelope Valley, First Missionary Baptist Church in Littlerock held a prayer service Tuesday night. Temple Beth Knesset Bamidbar, Antelope Valley's Reformed Jewish congregation, scheduled a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. today.

"It's devastating, it's heartbreaking, and it's absolutely confusing," said First Missionary's pastor, the Rev. Henry Hearns, who is also Lancaster's vice mayor. "What we have to do is pray and believe that God knows what is going on."

After getting about a dozen calls, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church said he decided to organize a special service at 6:30 p.m. today. The church is at 7115 Shoup Ave. in West Hills, church secretary Edith Pendleton said.

"I'm going to ask everyone to come and pray together," she said. "The main thing we can do is to pray for our country and our people."

"At this moment, we are so stunned," Pendleton said. "The world is so stunned. A matter of prayer is the greatest thing we can do."


Numerous churches, temples and synagogues have announced prayer services in support of victims, their families and of world peace. Among the services:


--Interfaith service between St. Martin of Tours Church and University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. 8 a.m.

--Calvary Church, 7115 Shoup Ave., West Hills. (818) 348-3483. 6:30 p.m.

--The Church of Rocky Peak, 22601 Santa Susana Pass Rd., Chatsworth. (818) 709-0113. 7 p.m.

--First Christian Church of North Hollywood, with Interfaith Food Pantry Coalistion, 4390 Colfax Ave., North Hollywood. (818) 763-8218. 7 p.m.

--West Valley Unity Church, 18300 Strathern Street, Reseda. (818) 345-6011. 7:30 p.m.

--Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 27265 N. Luther Drive, Canyon Country. (661) 252-0622. 8:15 p.m.

--Temple Beth Haverim, 5126 Clareton Drive, Agoura Hills. (818) 991-7111. 8:15 p.m.

--Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, 22021 Gault St., Canoga Park. (818) 582-2880. 6:30 p.m. in Spanish; 7:30 p.m. in English.


--Temple Beth Haverim, 5126 Clareton Drive, Agoura Hills. (818) 991-7111. 8:15 p.m.

--An interfaith service at Church of St. Andrew & St. Charles and Temple Beth Torah, 16651 Rinaldi St., Granada Hills. (818) 366-7541. 7 p.m.


St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, 7136 Winnetka Ave., Canoga Park. (818) 348-1419. 10 a.m.

Staff Writers Heather MacDonald, Jim Skeen, Karen Maeshiro, Sandra Barrera, Jason Kandel and Sabrina Decker contributed to this story.

©Copyright 2001, Los Angeles Daily News

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