Bahai News - Religious leaders urge unity

Religious leaders urge unity

Staff Writer

This week's terrorist attack has seared the spirits of people across the United States and local religious leaders are urging unity and prayer as a soothing salve.

In a proclamation delivered Thursday, President George W. Bush declared today as National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.

"I ask that the people of the United States and places of worship mark this national day of prayer and remembrance with noontime memorial services, the ringing of bells at that hour, and evening candlelight remembrance vigils," Bush said.

Many North County houses of worship have planned special services. Many others simply have kept their doors open since Tuesday to offer a place for prayer and quiet contemplation.

"The church has been open every moment since (the attack)," said the Rev. Steve Wendfeldt of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Del Mar. Wendfeldt and ministers from other faiths say that as the nation seeks to heal, the clergy's obligation is to make themselves and their houses of worship available to all people.

"The pain in all of our hearts is so real and so vast," Wendfeldt said Thursday.

As Americans head to churches, synagogues and mosques this week, the job of ministers is to listen to people, to pray with them, or simply to sit silently, Wendfeldt said.

"Our prayers are for a just, not vengeful response," Wendfeldt said. "Vengeance is God's alone, not ours."

In denouncing terrorism, leaders in Poway's Temple Adat Shalom are urging members not to blame their neighbors for the misdeeds of others, said Rabbi Deborah Prinz.

In helping her congregants heal, Prinz has encouraged them to take concrete action by making donations to victims of Tuesday attacks and their families, she said.

At a 6:15 p.m. service planned for tonight, representatives from Muslim and Pakistani organizations are scheduled to address members of the synagogue where nearly 700 families worship, Prinz said.

"We hope to be healers," she said. "Under these circumstances, we're challenged to help people with the healing process."

The doors of Oceanside's Bahai Community Center are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. "for anybody who wants to say prayers or simply talk or meditate or get involved with a discussion," said Peter Johnson, secretary of the center's spiritual assembly.

The Bahai faith has no clergy, he said.

The Bahai community's duty, Johnson said, "is of course to bring comfort and solace to the people."

At Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, Pastor Ed Girod will deliver a noon sermon today to offer a word of hope, he said.

"We're trying to serve the needs of the community by providing a place of prayer, worship and meditation," he said.

The Rev. Ramon Marrufo of Vista's St. Francis of Assisi Church has challenged his 5,000 congregants to love their enemy.

"Someone after mass told me, 'thank you for reminding me of that,' " Marrufo said.

Contact staff writer Adam Kaye at (760) 943-2312 or


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