Prayer, hope mark remembrance ceremony

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

When I'm called to duty God

Wherever flames may rage,

Give me strength to save a life

Whatever be its age.

Help me to embrace a little child

Before it is too late,

Or save an older person from

The horror of that fate.

The Firefighter's Prayer read by Central Emergency Services Chief Jeff Tucker set the stage for a Sept. 11 remembrance program at Soldotna High School Wednesday evening.

More than 200 people attended the service in which religious leaders from six area churches joined with civic officials to remember and pray for victims of the terrorist attacks of one year ago.

The prayer continues:

Enable me to be alert

To hear the weakest shout,

And quickly and efficiently

To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling and

To give the best in me,

To guard my neighbor and

Protect his property.

And, if according to your will

I have to lose my life,

Bless with your protecting hand

My children and my wife.

The prayerful assembly, which was hosted by the Soldotna and Kenai Body of Christ, brought religious leaders together from the Soldotna Church of God, Peninsula Grace Brethren, the Kenai Fellowship Church of Christ, the Kenai Church of God and the Soldotna Bible Chapel.

They were joined by civic leaders including state Sen. John Torgerson, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey, Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Gifford and CES Chief Tucker and Herb Stettler, service officer for the Soldotna VFW Post 10046, and Sylvia Reynolds, principal of Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School.

After the VFW color guard presented the colors onstage, Mike Lyons played a saxophone solo of "The Star Spangled Banner" and the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Pastor Alan Humphries of the Soldotna Church of God read the facts of the Sept. 11 events including the number of dead on each plane and on the ground at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The assembly then sat silently for a moment, remembering the victims and their families.

Sen. Torgerson recalled being in Washington, D.C., shortly after Sept. 11.

"I was walking near the Washington Mall and someone said a helicopter was coming in with the president.

"At first I didn't think too much of it, but then I saw something I thought I would never see in our nation's capital -- almost every building in a 360-degree radius had a sniper on top and the president's helicopter came in, along with helicopter gunships."

Torgerson then read a prayer for President Bush "so our nation may know stability."

Mayor Bagley also offered a prayer for the nation noting that "freedom of religion is one of the many freedoms we treasure."

Mayor Carey read from the 177th Psalm and said, "I hope all of us can join together as a people of peace. Peace is found in the Lord."

Before Tucker read the Firefighter's Prayer, Chief Gifford read a prayer for the protection of law enforcement officers and recalled a story of Jews imprisoned at Dachau during World War II who created a slogan: Never again.

"Our slogan today is, 'Never forget,'" Gifford said.

The Kenai Fellowship Choir led the assembly in a sing-along of a new arrangement of "Rock of Ages," singing, "Had it not been the Lord on our side, the anger of the enemy would have eaten us up."

The Rev. Rick Cupp, pastor of the Kenai Fellowship Church of Christ, read from Psalm 11, saying that "when David heard people yelling, 'Run for your lives,' he said, 'I've already run -- straight to the arms of Yahweh.'"

"We are to be with our neighbors, arm in arm, to strengthen each other," Cupp said.

Representing her husband, Bishop Dan Eason, pastor of Kenai Church of God, Renee Eason said, "It is the churches that assure that we are a nation under God."

Members of Eason's church, John and Andrea McGrane of Kenai, attended the remembrance program with their 5-month-old daughter, Abigail, and son, Isaac, 20 months, "to support our church and our community and to let people know there are people out there who care."

John McGrane is a sergeant in the Army National Guard in Kenai and served on active duty in the army in the Persian Gulf War.

Asked if he had mixed emotions being an active member of the church and a member of the military at the same time, McGrane answered without hesitation.

"My emotions are clear. My dedication is to my country, to my family and to my beliefs," he said.

"We must take action."

Borrowing from a speech made earlier in the day by President Bush, Pastor Humphries quoted from Psalm 23.

"Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will know no evil for you are with me," he said.

"In me you may have peace," said John Rysdyk, pastor of the Soldotna Bible Chapel, reading from John 16:33.

"'In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world,' Jesus said.

"Pray for your pastors. The Gospel is the salvation. Maybe tonight you're fearful ... you have anxiety. Talk to me. Talk to one of these pastors. Jesus is the answer. He will bring you peace," said Rysdyk.

After all had spoken, the Soldotna Church of God and First Baptist Church choirs joined in a passionate rendition of "God Bless America" and closed the presentation with "Amazing Grace."

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