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Baptist students weep, pray for Sept. 11 terror victims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“It is overwhelming. Chaos, just utter chaos,” Daniel Morgan, an Oklahoma Baptist University senior, said.

Morgan echoed the sentiment of students at Baptist universities and colleges across the nation as they expressed their shock and horror at the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington that left hundreds, possibly thousands, dead.

The morning blasts that leveled the World Trade Center and destroyed a portion of the Pentagon were viewed by hundreds of students and faculty as they gathered around television sets in student union buildings and dormitories.

The attacks brought back memories of the Oklahoma City bombings for students at Oklahoma Baptist University.

“Memories of when I lived in Oklahoma City during the bombing came flooding back,” said Amanda Tate, a junior from McAlester, Okla. “I think this is a huge eye-opener because this kind of stuff happens to countries across the world all the time and most Americans don’t pay attention to it and realize the impact it has.”

“These are the worst things that I have ever seen in my life,” said Amy Remington, a student from Casper, Wyo. “I grieve for the people who are living in uncertainty about their loved ones and fear for the ones who know that they have lost loved ones.”

Many universities cancelled classes while others held impromptu prayer gatherings. Following is a compilation of how some Baptist campuses responded to the terrorist attack:

— At Mississippi College, a special chapel service at 10:50 a.m. Sept. 11 drew more than 1,000 students, faculty, and staff to an 800-seat auditorium, overflowing into the halls and down the steps. Heads were bowed, the students were subdued and quiet, as faculty members led in prayer.

Harold Bryson, chair of the MC’s department of Christian studies and philosophy stated, “The main thing that we could do yesterday was to listen to God, and he speaks to us through his Word. He speaks to us through the Bible. The only other thing that we can do is pray to him and he listens to us as we pray for people who are hurt and even for our enemies.” Bryson read from Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea” (The Living Bible).

Lloyd Roberts, the college’s interim president, said, “Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, has forever changed us. Our immediate reaction to the unspeakable horror and devastation of these terrible acts was to draw together as a college family of students, faculty, and staff in prayer. … God is really all there is. He is our strength, our hope, and our sustenance.”

— In response to the urgent appeal for blood donations, Baylor University in Texas will hold a blood drive Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the student lounge of the new Umphrey Law Center on University Parks Drive. All blood types are needed, but it was noted that officials with the American Red Cross Blood Center have stressed the need for 0-positive and 0-negative blood.

Baylor faculty, staff and students will gather at 9 tonight, Sept. 12, in Waco Hall for a service of prayer and remembrance.

— Campbell University in North Carolina, in the wake of the terrorist attacks, canceled classes at its extended education programs at the Ft. Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune/MCAS New River and Morrisville campuses until further notice.

“This is a trying time for all of us,” said Jerry Wallace, assistant to the president, “We understand some students will wish to return to their homes and be with their families, but [we] believe that maintaining a normal main campus schedule will help the university family maintain a sense of calm and reassurance.”

Campbell’s campus minister Terry-Michael Newell opened a seminar meeting with a Scripture reading from the Book of Isaiah, a moment of silence and prayer.

“With the horrific events in our nation, may your presence be known in the lives of their families, friends and loved ones,” Newell said. “We pray for the leaders of our nation and the leaders of the world. We pray and long for peace in our world and pray that instruments of war will be made into instruments of peace.

“We pray for justice, but not revenge — we pray for unity and not division — and we pray for peace and not war.”

— Hannibal-LaGrange College students, staff and faculty met in Missouri campus’ Mabee Sports Complex at noon to pray for the victims, as well as students who have friends and family in the military who may be called out. A community prayer service was held, as well as smaller prayer sessions in dorms and other campus locations. Students have been coming together in large groups to watch up-to-the-minute news reports and sensing the need to be of support to one another.

— Charleston Southern University officials expressed shock and grief over news of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and elsewhere in the United States, and they quickly took steps to counsel and reassure students and other members of the CSU family who are affected by the tragedies. Crisis counseling sessions are being offered to students and others connected with the campus. Members of the faculty conducted prayers in evening classes for students who were unable to attend the earlier sessions. The South Carolina university has students from all over America and from 32 foreign countries. Campus officials said they are not sure how many of CSU’s 2,684 students are personally affected by the devastation.

— Day and evening classes at the Brewton-Parker College campus in Georgia were canceled. Flags are being flown at half mast. Students held a special time of prayer for the country and those affected by the attack during a Sept. 11 chapel service in the college’s Saliba Chapel.

— Many faculty members at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee have altered their teaching schedule for a time of prayer and assessment of the current situation, said Ev Robertson, a university faculty member.

“I personally feel that learning to deal with crises in our life is of primary importance in our education,” Robertson said. “In my Drama in the Church class we prayed for the individuals perpetrating the attacks on our country. It is our prayer that somehow through this horrific loss of life the love of Christ will show through.”

Carson-Newman canceled a major sesquicentennial celebration and instead hosted a prayer vigil on campus led by the campus ministries department.

— At Wayland Baptist University in Texas, students expressed concern about possible military deployment.

“We have campuses in several other states, many of which are on military bases,” campus newspaper adviser Teresa Young said. “Much of those have gone into emergency state and will not be holding classes until given the OK.”

“We know for sure this has occurred at our Fairbanks, Alaska, site and both campuses in Arizona — located in Phoenix at Luke AFB and Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista,” she said. “In fact, it’s pretty much the normal protocol for all the bases to be tightening their security and many of our military students may even be deployed soon. We’re keeping an eye out and, of course, keeping our military population in our prayers.”

–The University of Mobile gathered for a prayer vigil led by President Mark Foley. Additional services are scheduled for Sept. 12 in the Weaver Auditorium, according to Kathy Dean, director of public relations.

— Cumberland College in Kentucky created a media center to update students on the crisis and an area for prayer and counseling throughout the day.

— At North Greenville College, President Jimmy Epting called a special time of prayer at in the Hamlin Concert Hall of the Hayes Christian Fine Arts Center. Some professors cancelled classes. Others watched TV in their classes of the coverage. Impromptu circles of prayer popped up around campus after the tragedy.

— Campbellsville University in Kentucky scheduled a special prayer service in the nearby Campbellsville Baptist Church in response to the attacks. The student union building on campus also hosted prayer and a place for students, faculty, staff and others to share their thoughts.

Many classes were canceled because faculty and students minds’ were all on the tragedy that has befallen this nation.

— William Carey College’s Hattiesburg campus also reported holding a prayer vigil on Sept. 11.

— At Union University in Tennessee, students, faculty, staff and administration met together in chapel to pray for the victims of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon as well as President Bush and the country as a whole.

“This is very much a Pearl Harbor kind of day,” Todd Brady, minister to the university, said as he addressed the somber faces of the university family. Students filled the aisles, kneeling on the floor as several faculty and staff members led in prayer.

Reports were beginning to trickle in as students were trying to find out about loved ones who worked in the World Trade Center or near the areas that were attacked.
Additional reporting from Art Toalston, Alice Smith, Lori Scott Fogleman, Audra Johnson, Ev Robertson, Teresa Young, Elizabeth Jones, Linwood Hagin, Michael Chute & Sara Horn. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRAYER TIME, AISLE OF PRAYER, COVERING THE CRISIS, STUDENTS COMFORT ONE ANOTHER, and PRAYING IN MOBILE, STAIRWELL GATHERING.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes