Sunday, September 16, 2001

Sermons to focus on love

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate residents will fill churches today to offer prayers for those who died in Tuesday's attacks and seek answers from God about how to deal with anger, hurt and fear.

        Many local ministers have searched for days for the right words to say. Most have scrapped their original sermons for ones that speak to last week's catastrophic events.

        Many of today's sermons will focus on loving God, loving one's neighbor and even loving one's enemies.

        The Rev. Jerry Pelfrey, pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Mason, plans to preach that life is a gift from God and that people should be thankful for it.

        “This is a great opportunity for the pulpits to sound forth God's message, which has always been to be prepared,” the Rev. Mr. Pelfrey said.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch Jr. of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage said he will tell parishioners Christians must repent.

        “We (Americans) thought that we were impregnable, invincible and that nothing could come and get us, yet here we are,” the Rev. Mr. Lynch said. “We thought we were safe, but you are never truly safe unless you are safe in the arms of Jesus.”

        What other ministers will say:

        • The Rev. Louisa Baer at Blue Ash Presbyterian Church plans to emphasize who the enemy is in this attack.

        “It is not the followers of Islam,” the Rev. Mrs. Baer said. “Just as a member of the Ku Klux Klan cannot claim to speak for all Christians, these terrorist groups cannot claim to speak for all of Islam.”

        • In Deerfield Township's St. Margaret of York, the Rev. Thomas Kreidler will focus on compassion.

        The Warren County Catholic church has been especially hard hit by this week's attacks. One parishioner's son was on the 104th floor of World Trade Center building No. 1 when the hijacked airliner crashed into it. Father Kreidler said the man, who he would not identify, remains among those missing or presumed dead.

        • The Rev. Eugene Godhigh, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Over-the-Rhine, said his message will mirror the words of Christ: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

        “We have to love one another, hold onto one another, help one another and not criticize one another,” the Rev. Mr. Godhigh said.

        “This tragedy has brought us together,” he said. “And somehow the Lord puts us in a place where we need to be.”

        • The Rev. Gilbert Duchow, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Florence, said he will stay with the same Scripture he selected a month ago, Hebrews 13:5-6.

        “God promises I will never leave and never forsake you,” the Rev. Mr. Duchow said.


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