SARANAC LAKE - The victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were remembered here Sunday afternoon in a service that focused on peace and hope.
More than 150 people filled the pews at St. Bernard's Catholic Church for the interfaith service, which was sponsored by the Ecumenical Council of Saranac Lake.
At the front of the church, the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died at the hands of terrorists 10 years ago were displayed on music stands around a table with dozens of small, lit candles. An American flag stood at the side of the altar.
The Rev. Ann Gaillard lights candles in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the start of an interfaith service at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake. Paul Herrmann of Saranac Lake stands at Gaillard’s left.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"We're gathered here for a somber purpose," the Rev. Mark Reilly, pastor of St. Bernard's, said in the introduction. "It is to remember what can only be described as something evil, and yet to respond with something good. We remember. We pray. We reflect."
The service featured readings and prayers from a variety of faiths. The Rev. Christopher Cox of Saranac Lake read a Hindu prayer for peace and a passage from Srimad Bhagavatam, the Hindu bible. Rabbi Alec Friedman of the Lake Placid Synagogue offered a prayer and read from the Book of Isaiah. Mohammad Abdullah, a Muslim imam from Saranac Lake, read a passage from the Koran. Rich Loeber of Saranac Lake read from the Gospel of Matthew and the Prayer of St. Francis to represent Christianity, Karen Fraser read from Buddhist scriptures, and Virginia Slater represented earth-based traditions with a reading and a Druid prayer.
"What we're hoping to portray is a message of hope and reconciliation, and the longing that we have for peace in the world," said the Rev. Michael Richards, pastor of Saranac Lake's First United Methodist Church. "The more we can gather together as people of faith, whatever that faith tradition may be, the more likely we are to try and achieve that sort of peace."
In between the readings, bells were rung in memory of the first and second planes slamming into the World Trade Center, the third that hit the Pentagon and the crash of United flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.
The Rev. Ann Gaillard, pastor of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, came up with the idea for the service earlier this year. She said its message was focused on "remembrance and hope, healing and peace."
"I think the goal of this service was to be ecumenical and inclusive," Cox said. "When we believe we have the only just and correct view of God, and God speaks only to me, we engage in religious fundamentalism, and things like 9/11 happen. This is a perfect display of the antithesis of that."
St. Bernard's was the site of a similar interfaith service nearly 10 years ago, just days after the terrorist attacks. That one focused on recognizing firefighters, and departments from all over Franklin County turned out for it in full dress uniform.