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ZZZ-RETIRED Preparing for the Coming Anniversary: People of Faith Respond to September 11

Rev. Patricia Hoertdoerfer and Jacqui James, Lifespan Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Association, Boston, MA

In preparation for seeing yourself, your family, and your congregation through 9/11/2002, we need to look at what might be difficult, as well as what will help us.

  • What will you do for yourself?
  • What will you do with your family?
  • What will you do with your congregation?

The new church year will be a time for helping your congregation—children, youth, adults, elders, staff—feel a sense of belonging and unity. This sense of belonging is a rich foundation for trust, compassion, understanding, and tolerance. These are some of the same attributes and values that help us get along throughout life.

  • What are some ways you can create this sense of community and identity?
  • What music and songs?
  • What stories?
  • What art or drama?
  • What congregational activity or communal ritual?

Here are a few ideas to help develop a sense of community and identity. Adapt them, change them, and create some of your own.

  • One RE community got a bucket of latex paint in the summer. The teachers in fall will ask the children and youth in their group to place their handprint on the wall outside the door of their meeting place. As new participants come they will be invited to put their handprints on the wall along with the others. Immediately they will see and feel a sense of belonging. Perhaps your congregation and/or building committee/board of trustees will not accommodate this plan, but you could adapt the concept. How about photos lining the walls of the social hall or the stairwell or the foyer?
  • Another RE Committee and teachers/leaders made beaded necklaces. All the children and youth will wear these necklaces the first four Sundays and for each of their intergenerational worship and/or activities throughout the year.

Reflection: Renewal and Rediscovery

What you see in yourself you see in the world.

The soul is the mirror of the world.
—Afghan proverbs

In the terror and violence of 9/11 we saw compassion and courage. This tragedy has become a turning point, an opportunity for awareness and community, that has catapulted us across a new threshold of consciousness.

Looking Back at the Deep Side

For this time of reflection we are going to work at getting specific about our unfinished grief, our unnamed or repressed traumatic memories, the overwhelming sadness, and /or that weighing most heavily on our hearts.

  • What troubles you most now?
  • What are your greatest fears for the future?
  • What kinds of support carried you through the year?
  • What support were you able to give others?
  • How has this helped you to re-evaluate what you treasure and what really matters?

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