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An Open Letter from the Rev. William G. Sinkford President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

September 12, 2001

Dear Friends,

The events of this week have shattered our sense of safety. Many of us are in shock. Many of us are afraid. Many of us long to know what to tell our children. Some of us grieve the loss of friends or loved ones. All of us search for our response as people of faith.

The images of destruction will not allow us to escape. The collapse of buildings mirrors a collapse of confidence, rocking the fragile foundations of our lives. Our world will never be the same. Our work to heal ourselves and to heal the world seems puny in comparison with the destruction we see. How shall we respond?

First, let us hold in our hearts and in our prayers the families of those who were killed and wounded in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Let us stand with those who grieve and those who wait the long hours for news of loved ones.

Let us know our fear, but not allow it to overwhelm us. For most of us, life normally seems safe and secure. But people in many parts of the world, and many people in our part of the world, know violence and potential violence in their daily lives.

The terrorist attacks are being likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a day that "will live in infamy." Pearl Harbor did galvanize this nation into action, and my hope is that this tragedy, too, will impel us to address the brokenness of our world that makes violence an imaginable solution. Remember also that Pearl Harbor led to the impounding and imprisonment of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans. There are Arab and Muslim communities in this country and around the world that grieve as we do, and fear as we do. I hope our congregations will reach out to those communities and stand with them.

We must seek justice and, as our President says, to punish those responsible. But retribution will not create safety, nor move us toward justice.

This tragedy tests our faith. Where is God in this? Where is the Spirit of Life?

May our congregations be centers of support where we can bring our questions and our fears, where we can find the presence of the holy in our coming together.

Yours in faith and hope,

William G. Sinkford

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