By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON September 14, 2001 As word of Tuesday mornings terrorist attack on America spread like wildfire across the county, many folks began to reach out to others and threw open the doors of houses of worship across the land or held community meetings of support and fellowship.
In Sullivan County, many churches and synagogues held emergency prayer services. Others gathered in hastily arranged community meetings to share their feelings and gain strength from each other in a time of solidarity.
Prayer vigils, silent worship and simple fellowship happened on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Fremont Center Community Church, St. Francis Xavier of Narrowsburg, Callicoon Community Center, Temple Sholom in Monticello, Lake Huntington Presbyterian, Eldred United Methodist Church, Kauneonga Lakes Temple Beth-El, United Methodist Church of Roscoe, St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Narrowsburg, and the Rock Hill United Methodist Church. In addition, Sullivan County Community College yesterday hosted an afternoon panel discussion related to the incidents.
The little riverside hamlet of Callicoon held a non-denominational prayer meeting at the Delaware Community Center the day of the attacks. About 40 people attended the gathering, which began at 7 p.m.
Im just helping out in prayer, said Keith Peters of Acts 1:8 Church of Cochecton, one of the gatherings organizers.
Peters was one of millions who watched as the tragedy unfolded on television throughout the horrific day.
It reminded me of watching Third World countries fight, he said. It looked like a war zone. Its just amazing that its happening now in our nation.
Peters, an elder, counselor and prayer warrior at Acts 1:8, learned about the attacks while counselling a member of his church.
We prayed for the city and the many people who lost loved ones. There are evil people, [and] youre not going to change a deranged mind from working these things out in our land, but whats important is focusing on the Lord and working in harmony instead of focusing on silly things.
Pastor Bob Paquet and his wife Gloria of the Hankins Assembly of God Church and Pastor Dennis Ubertini of Acts 1:8 helped put the word out in the community that there was going to be an evening prayer meeting.
We just opened it up for the community to pray, said Pastor Paquet. We need to bring our nation together for unity, and thats what this meeting is about.
Pastor Bob learned of the tragedy after he took his wife to the Callicoon Hospital for x-rays.
They turned on the TV, and it was surreal, he said. But this was for real.
Ruth Makela of Hankins was a 14-year-old girl reading the Sunday comics in a local newspaper when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The suddenness, the shock of it and the unpreparedness of Tuesdays attacks vividly transported her back to 1941.
Here were sitting in a room, not reading the funny papers but watching Good Morning, America, and all of a sudden all heck broke loose.
Asked why she came to the meeting, Makela replied, To pray for our government to do something to end this mess or the good Lord to come back and take it all away.
I guess we need some peace to take the anger out of my heart, she added. Im so sorry for the people who are dead.
Pastor Bob opened the evening of community prayer by reading from II Chronicles, Chapter 7, Verse 14: If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Following readings from the scriptures, the assemblage joined hands as they recited the Lords Prayer, and their spirit rocked the rafters in this small community center by the Delaware River.
We pray for the families who are mourning tonight, whose children are crying and weeping, whose mothers are gnashing their teeth, said Pastor Bob. Father, in the name of Jesus, lift them up.
In between spoken words by pastors Paquet and Ubertini and church elder Peters, the assemblage stood and joined voices in singing It is Well With My Soul, Be Unto Your Name, He Will Come and Save, The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord and Save Us, Oh God.
As songs faded into stillness, murmurs of quiet prayer broke the fragile silence.
Worship leader Marie Gustafson and Barbara Schwartz played guitar, and were joined by Jodi Peters, Sue Tueswell and Sue Ubertini in singing along with the assemblage.
The evening of prayer closed with everyone linking hands as they sang God Bless America, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and heard one last plea from Keith Peters:
Forgive them, God, for they do not know what they are doing.