Ecumenical 9/11 service draws big crowd

More than 100 people of all faiths, some wearing Ravens jerseys, turned out in mid-game for an ecumenical service of remembrance Sunday for those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Hineni (Here I am)," Rabbi Liz Bolton of the Beit Tikvah Congregation in Roland Park chanted in Hebrew during an ecumenical service at Homewood Friends Meeting House, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

And later she led the audience in a hymn that began, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

"We need to look back and remember. But let it be for the sake of renewal," Bolton told the audience.

The Rev. Kevin Brooks, pastor of the Gethsemane AME Church in Baltimore, urged those in attendance to act as "first responders for peace," and to treat others as if they were victims of a hurricane.

"We don't care about your religion, your class, your creed — just help me get this tree off my house," Brooks said.

And Syrian-born Imam Mohammed Bashar Arafat, of the Woodlawn-based Civilization Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, said the world needs "love and joy and peace and compassion," as well as an end to hatred and mistrust of Muslims.

His wife, American Kimberly King, a Muslim who wore a blue "khimmar" or scarf on her head, stood in the back and took video and photos with her cell phone.

"It gives me hope," King, 45, said as she observed the outpouring of support on a rainy afternoon that forced the service indoors after it was originally scheduled in Wyman Park Dell. "The day that (9/11) happened, I couldn't believe it," King said. "I almost wanted to deny it like it was a hoax or something."

The service was sponsored by the Greater Homewood Interfaith Alliance. Others participating included the Rev. Robin Bolen Anderson, of University Baptist Church in Charles Village, who organized the service; Rev. Donald Buggraf, of First English Lutheran Church in Guilford, the Greater Faith Baptist Church Choir in Baltimore, the peace group Women in Black, the Interfaith Community of Roland Park, the Rev. Matthew D'Amario of St. John's in the Village Episcopal Church in Waverly and the Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee.

Local officials and community leaders on hand included City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, Northern District Police Commander Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper, and Karen Stokes, executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corp.

The service was the second of its kind Sunday for Bolton. Earlier in the day, Beit Tikvah was one of five houses of worship, all located at First Christian Church in Rolnd Park, which came together for an ecumenical service.

When asked if too much is being made of the anniversary, Bolton said, "It's a legitimate question — and I don't think we have a choice."

For those in the audience, the service was important, even if it meant missing the second half of the Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers football game (which the Ravens won handily).

Anna Funkhouser, of Catonsville, a member of University Baptist Church, wore her Ravens jersey, but said being at the service was more important. She said she spent much of Saturday watching a TV report about the events of 9/11.

She noted that her daughter and son-in-law, honeymooners Ginny and John Spivey were on a plane flying back from Paris as the service was starting.

Given the events of 9/11, "I'm a little nervous," she said.

Also on hand were University Baptist Church members Miguel Aragon and Nianka Naisman and their two sons, Samuel Aragon, 4, and Jonathan Aragon, 22 months.

The couple told Samuel about 9/11 for the first time before the service.

"He was very sad," his mother said.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad