- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Local houses of worship joined those across the country in responding to the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center by calling prayer services and offering comfort to a shaken nation.
In Gaithersburg, pastors at Covenant Life Church called a 7:30 p.m. prayer service and spread the word that members should take a break from watching television coverage to commune with God.
Executive Pastor Joshua Harris asked the 1,200 in attendance to pray for wisdom for President Bush and his advisers.
"We really wanted to keep our focus very limited," Mr. Harris said afterward. "We came together to pray for the president, for all the victims and for their famiies. We didn't gather to try to understand or explain, but to express our trust in God, our need for Him and our confidence in the power of prayer."
The gathering watched Mr. Bush's short address to the nation in a darkened auditorium, breaking into applause and praises to God when the president cited Psalm 23 by saying, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me." Congregants then exuberantly sang the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, led a packed 12:10 p.m. Mass of about 2,500, mostly Catholic University students, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast. Six cardinals, 38 bishops and about 24 priests attended.
The Rev. Wayne Jenkins, pastor for education at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, said he and fellow pastors "opened the doors of the church" once they learned of the plane attack against the Pentagon.
"We're close enough to hear the blast," Mr. Jenkins said of his church, situated near Route 7.
The church at 2932 King St. will hold a prayer service tonight at 6:30 p.m., one of dozens of similar ceremonies locally.
The New York-based National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. said in a statement: "Even as our national sites are under attack, we call on all people to manifest the best of our national spirit. At such a time as this, we must hold together."
The Rev. Ron Lithgow of the Arlington Community Church on Wilson Boulevard scheduled a prayer service at 7 p.m. last night for his multinational flock, some of whom Mr. Lithgow said were Pentagon employees.
Washington National Cathedral stood closed as a safety precaution, but services at the Good Shepherd Chapel and the Cathedral Garth, on the north side of the Cathedral, were to continue at 7:30 a.m., noon, 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. until further notice.
Local residents not only sought comfort in houses of worship but also flooded church phone lines to find out how to provide comfort to neighbors.
"A lot of calls are offering support if we need it … from all over the country. It's been a nice thing today," said Mary Ann Ledman, office manager with the National Capital Presbytery on 45th Street NW.
Charles Colson, special counsel to President Nixon and chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries, released a statement warning that "the soul of our nation is facing one of its darkest hours" and calling for retribution. "May God help us," he added.


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