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First Presbyterian Church welcomes Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Attorney General Asks, ‘How Have You Used Your Years?’

September 12, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch offers guest remarks at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate

First Presbyterian Church welcomed back a special guest this past weekend.  U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who began attending the church just after Sept. 11, 2001, returned on Sunday to offer remarks as part of the church’s Sept. 11 remembrance service.

This service also celebrated new beginnings, including the baptism of a baby and the blessing over children, educators and the Sunday school teachers.

Lynch spoke about her personal experience attending First Presbyterian Church. “I began attending First Church shortly after 9/11. I certainly knew of First Church prior to that. I worked with Reverend Paul [Smith] on a committee. My friends Jim Johnson and Tanya Hill both attended and spoke highly of the warmth to be found here. I began attending after 9/11 because I was looking for the comfort and support of a community of faith.

“Where were you on 9/11?” Lynch continued. “That has become the question of our generation — much as our parents asked, ‘Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?’  On that fateful day, time stood still as we watched the tragedy unfold, as if it were frozen.  But time never really does stand still.  In fact, the events of 9/11, the meaning of 9/11, is best characterized by the actions we took.”

“But at the same time,” Lynch added, “we must also look forward — in hope and in joy — to the legacy of those we lost. Yesterday [Saturday, Sept. 10] I was privileged to attend the memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the firefighters lost on 9/11 and to illness thereafter…One of the clergy recounted a particularly moving story, however, about a young firefighter who had written a will, never expecting it would be read so soon.  His possessions were few, and so he wrote, ‘To my family and friends, all I ask is that you use my years.’

“What a bequest.  What a gift.  What a legacy,” Lynch continued. “And when we look around we see how we have indeed used a portion of his years. We have rebuilt Ground Zero and this city.  We have used this tragedy to strengthen ourselves — both our defenses and our resolve. And we have committed ourselves to hold fast to the ideals that define us — ideals of justice and equality, of compassion and love. There is, of course, more to do to create the beloved community that was envisioned by Dr. King, and that would truly honor our fallen heroes. And even though that community may seem far away at times, it is being created. It is being created when we gather for days of service. It is being created when we act to protect the weak from the strong. And it is being created when we reach out to the vulnerable, the lost and the disillusioned.”

Referring to the baptisms and blessing of students, Lynch said, “These children inspire us with hope.  But more importantly, they call us to action, reminding us of our responsibility to leave them a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just than the one we inherited.”

Lynch concluded by asking, “Where were you on 9/11?  Our hearts will always answer that question. So let me pose another — where are you today?  How have you used your years?”

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