- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

NEW YORK The angst that remains in this city took a breather yesterday as 1,500 people turned out to hear clergy from all over the country preach of the need for faith and serenity.
Nearly 800 members of the American Clergy Leadership Conference were among those assembled at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Plaza in Harlem for a service that focused on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
"People's hearts soften, and people find God when something like this happens," said the Rev. Vernon Williams, of the African Square Baptist Church in Harlem. "When someone throws a brick through your window, you see that you need your neighbor. And that is what is happening now."
He added: "This is healing now. It is what we can all give."
The Rev. Levy Daugherty, executive director of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, said that yesterday's gathering was "a great act of love and a response to irresponsibility and hate."
The plaza at the corner of 125th Street and Seventh Avenue filled during the afternoon with people who had ridden buses from the District and surrounding areas to attend the service. There were many New Yorkers who came as well.
Men wearing T-shirts bearing the image of rap stars stood next to suburbanites.
Members of the Islamic faith attended the service. There were also Jews, blacks, whites and Asians.
And when one minister asked how many in the crowd were from out of town, nearly two-thirds of those in attendance raised a hand.
Almost everybody wore a small red, white and blue commemorative pin in honor of the estimated 6,500 people killed in the terrorist attacks.
The pins which cost $3 each from Times Square merchants were given away for free.
"This must be very hard, impossible, really, for people in New York to move on and act as if nothing ever happened," said Catherine Henseler of Hyattsville, Md., who rode a charter bus with her three children.
"None of this will ever go away, but I hope this can help everybody get a new start," she said.
Several of the day's speakers reiterated her hope, exhorting those in attendance to pray and leading them in song.
The attempts at healing also came with prayers for peace, and many attendees feared that the current climate of war would only make life more difficult.
Their sentiments echo those of thousands of peace protestors who have been demonstrating around the country.
"We really do need to look at the root causes of [the terrorist acts]," said Win Win Kyi, a professor at Bergen Community College in New Jersey.
Imam Ameer Pasha Salahuddin, an Islamic minister from New York, also advocated peace and cautioned against military action.
"Let us heal in the proper way," he said. "To study other people's religions and have dialogue. This is not an Islamic war based on the word of God, but comes from materialism and secularism."
An event previously scheduled by the American Clergy Leadership Conference for yesterday at Madison Square Garden was postponed. Money that was to have paid for the event, such as the rental fee, will be donated to a fund for relief efforts that was started with a $2 million donation from the Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon.
Rev. Moon is the founder of the ACLC and the Unification Church.
Harlem was selected as the new site for the meeting yesterday because, organizers said, it has endured numerous hardships over the years.
The mostly black enclave has persevered, and is now enjoying a renaissance prompting some to say that the demolished World Trade Center will follow the example of Harlem and recover from the current crisis.
"[The World Trade Center] is on the same island, and it will share the same destiny," said the Rev. Preston Washington.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide