New Yorkers remember 9/11 with Service of Reconciliation at St. Paul’s Chapel, a first responders’ refuge
In a historic church that miraculously survived the World Trade Center’s destruction 14 years ago, a Marine turned Army chaplain preached a sermon of peace Friday to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.
“War is hard to learn. But it sticks with you,” the Rev. David W. Peters told worshippers at a Service of Reconciliation at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan.
The drill instructor at boot camp in Parris Island taught Peters and the other Marines-in-training, “Never back down and never surrender.”
After the post-9/11 invasion of Iraq, Peters signed up to be an Army chaplain. When he returned from the war, his anger against God was hard to shake, he recounted.
“It’s astounding how difficult reconciliation is,” he said. “We must become and be reconciliation for a world that desperately needs it.”
This hard task can be accomplished, he assured listeners, because “the heart of God beats with mercy.”
Peters was the winner of the 2015 Reconciliation Preaching Prize from Trinity Wall Street, which is St. Paul’s parish.
St. Paul’s, which opened in 1766, survived the Great Fire of 1776 thanks to a bucket brigade. It’s where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.
The Episcopal chapel was undamaged after the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 brought the destruction of other nearby buildings. St. Paul’s became an around-the-clock refuge for first responders and volunteers by the thousands who worked in the recovery effort.
At the Service of Reconciliation, the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, Trinity Wall Street’s rector, asked those present who had served in 9/11 rescue and recovery to stand for a moment’s recognition. Other worshippers applauded them.
Before the service, people gathered in the cemetery behind the chapel to hear the tolling of the Bell of Hope at 8:46 a.m. They were marking the moment that Flight 11, commandeered by hijackers, struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The bell was a gift to New York City from London on the first anniversary of 9/11. It was made at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, where the Liberty Bell was cast in 1752.
As part of the solemn bell-ringing ceremony, those assembled recited the Prayer of St. Francis.
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace,” they prayed as tears flowed.
St. Paul’s commemoration was one of many 9/11 anniversary remembrances that took place in Manhattan, Brooklyn and citywide.
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