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Churches urged to begin preparing ‘Hope: Remembering 9-11’ observances

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–As the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, the North American Mission Board has committed to helping churches point their communities to Christ through special services of remembrance and other observances.

An array of resources has been developed for church use on either Sunday, Sept. 8, or on the actual night of the anniversary — Wednesday, Sept. 11. A special website titled “Hope Remembering 9-11” has been established at www.namb.net/911 where the resources can be downloaded or ordered.

NAMB leaders said the time is short for churches to act on such a significant opportunity to both gather their people and reach out to their communities during a time of national remembrance.

“Churches have an opportunity — and I believe a responsibility — to focus their communities on the activity of God during the anniversary of 9/11,” said John Yarbrough, NAMB’s vice president for evangelization. “The world is going to be focusing on the devastating, evil deeds of the terrorists. We must focus on the grace and the power God to transform lives and give to our communities the only true source of everlasting hope, which is found alone in Christ.”

A central resource from NAMB is a video available in VHS or DVD formats that a church can feature in the observance. It provides a firsthand look at the activity of God through his people in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Robert E. Reccord, NAMB’s president, recorded most of the video from ground zero, the former site of the World Trade Center. It features comments from Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives; Admiral Vern Clark, U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon; Lt. Mark Winslow of the New York Port Authority; J.B. Graham, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New York; Larry Brown, coordinator of Southern Baptists’ Project Enduring Hope; and Annie Grunewald, human services coordinator for the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

The video focuses on changed lives and the ministry of Southern Baptists in the midst of crises. “Testimonies of those who have come to Christ show how tragedy can be turned to triumph and offer churches the opportunity to share the gospel with their community during this special observance,” Yarbrough said.

The video can be used from beginning to end as a 30-minute centerpiece to a church’s observance. Alternatively, suggestions are included for using individual segments of the video throughout a service led more directly by a pastor or other leader.

The video can be ordered by sending an e-mail request to [email protected] or by calling 1-800-634-2462 and selecting option two. The cost is $7.50 for the VHS version or $10 for the DVD.

Yarbrough stressed that the video must be ordered immediately by churches to ensure delivery in a timely manner.

“Videos will be shipped after Aug. 15 to assure that they are as current as possible,” he said. “However, we cannot overemphasize the need to order no later than Aug. 19 to ensure delivery in time for 9/11. To be ready, churches must act now.”

Other resources to help churches reach out to their communities at the “Hope: Remembering 9-11” website (www.namb.net/911) are:

— A downloadable document on the “Hope: Remembering 9-11” service that provides an extensive list of additional ideas and service elements.

— Information on launching Shield-A-Badge, an intercessory prayer ministry to local police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel that could be launched by churches in conjunction with the observance.

— Sermon outlines and other ideas that can serve as a resource for pastors planning a remembrance service.

— A special expanded edition of the “Your Church on Mission” bulletin insert providing an overview of Southern Baptist ministry efforts in the wake of Sept. 11, particularly related to disaster relief.

— A list of prayer needs for individuals in New York impacted by the event as well as a link to the www.praynewyork.com website, where individuals can sign up for regular updates on prayer needs.

Yarbrough noted that the Shield-A-Badge ministry dovetails with a suggestion for churches to use the remembrance service as an opportunity to recognize local heroes for their ongoing heroic service to the community. Recognition and testimonies also could be incorporated for individuals who volunteered in the wake of the disaster or were otherwise involved.

The site will be updated with additional resources and ideas between now and Sept. 11. “Check it often for the latest updates,” Yarbrough suggested.

“There is a need to prepare for whatever can happen in our lives,” he added. “That preparation means far more than to be very aware and conscious of what is going on around us. Our ultimate preparation is to prepare for eternity. This is a great opportunity to not sensationalize an event, but capture this event from the terrorists and to point people toward Christ. America was shaken on 9/11 but has yet to be awakened. Could it be that communities across America could be awakened on the anniversary of Satan’s attack?”

Reccord, NAMB’s president, also stressed that the Sept. 11 anniversary provides an opportunity churches will not want to miss.

“Rarely will there be an opportunity to more powerfully impact or personally penetrate a community and share the gospel with so many who may not regularly have a church affiliation as this remembrance of our national tragedy,” he said. “Nor is there a better way to clearly show what Southern Baptists are FOR — helping those in need, crisis ministry, stepping in when the bottom falls out of life and sharing clearly how to have a personal relationship with God. I think every SBC church will want to take advantage of this opportunity.”
(BP) file photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: 1-YEAR MARK UPCOMING, WORTH HONORING and REMEMBERING.

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  • James Dotson