- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

The following essay by photographer Jill Weinberg chronicles the healing role Washington religious organizations have played since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

As the devastating images of the planes striking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon appeared on television screens, many Americans for the first time realized their vulnerability and sought refuge in religion.
According to a Gallup poll, church attendance briefly surged to 47 percent of the population, up from the usual 41 percent.
At American University, Michael Godzwa, chaplain of the school's Chi Alpha Christian ministry, said several students who were not active members of a congregation came to him to discuss their feelings about the attacks.
"Even now I talk to students on campus who are still questioning, still wondering, still searching for answers," he said. As a result, four persons from the university have joined the Chi Alpha organization and are active members.
At St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Northwest, children like Hailey Hickman, 7, [pictured top] made origami cranes for peace. At 15th Street Presbyterian Church in the District, choir members sang "Guide My Feet," while the Rev. Sterling Morse reminded them that all people are helpless without God.
"It didn't stop with just families," said Monsignor W. Ronald Jameson, rector of St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Northwest. "We still see that reaching out. The number of gifts, cash to various organizations is millions of dollars. People felt the need to reach out and do what they could."
Muslims who worship at the Islamic Center in Northwest, say times are tense for them as well. But Fasih Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Student Association at George Washington University said the students on campus were very supportive.
"We had our e-mail box flooded for some time," he said. They (the student body) wanted to give us emotional support and ask us about Islam. I think our religious and ethnic diversity became much stronger after September 11 and I think there is more understanding of Islam and Muslims now than before."
Henry A. Haynes, a U.S. Army chaplain at the Pentagon says people "have a much larger heart" now.
"I think this has drawn people closer to God," he said. "I think that's the joy of what is happening. If you look deep enough, you can see the silver lining of the cloud. What we have found here is people's love for one another has increased tremendously. Their love for God has blossomed. I've heard nobody blame God for this. It's more like, 'God's going to get us through this, yes he is.'"

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