Scores of Nations Mourn 9/11 Victims
NEW YORK (AP) - The long, mournful moan of a conch shell, blown by a Hindu swami at Sept. 11's tragic hour, summoned worshippers from around the globe to the packed pews of a prayer service in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday morning.
As people from scores of nations remembered and renewed their commitment to the work of peace, Buddhist bells, Hebrew chants and the deep chords of a Christian church organ resounded through St. Bartholomew's Church at an interfaith service "dedicated to the victims of violence everywhere," but filled with prayer for the victims of last year's terror.
"This is the only spirit that can be our deepest tribute to those who perished - to work and act to eliminate the roots of hatred and violence everywhere," said an American clergyman, the Very Rev. James Parks Morton of the Interfaith Center of New York.
The opening procession, a rainbow of robes, caps and symbols of a multitude of faiths, entered the Byzantine-style church at the moment a year ago when tragedy struck New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
Hundreds of civil servants, staff members of non-governmental organizations, religious workers and others filled the nave, beneath soaring stained-glass windows, to pray with the clergy and other representatives of a dozen religions.
The interfaith "service of commitment to the work of the United Nations" is an annual tradition during each fall's opening of the U.N. General Assembly session.
Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary-general, recalled that last year's service, on Sept. 13, was the first public event he attended after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"This service, so far from being ill-timed, had become much more relevant and meaningful," he told the congregation Tuesday.
"Nine-eleven put all our faiths to the test," the U.N. chief said. "Nine-eleven made us look with new eyes at each other's faiths. ... We needed to come together."
The worshippers heard prayers from the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Bahai, Tao and Zoroastrian faiths, an African ritual of the Yoruba-Lukumi tradition, and a native American blessing.
The Bahai representative, Jeffery Huffines, who is also president of the religious organizations' U.N. committee, offered a prayer of welcome that ended, "May the resplendent light of peace shine its radiant light on all countries."
©Copyright 2002, The Associated Press