The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee expressed concern and prayed for relief workers and the nation in its Sept. 17 opening session.
The Executive Committee members adopted a resolution addressing the national crisis that erupted from the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee, reflected on his and other Americans' emotions from Sept. 11: "Jet airplanes slamming into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been forever etched into our minds, even our souls. In minutes, symbols of security for all Americans were transformed into stacks of twisted and melting steel. … Our ears are bombarded with the anguished cries of people frantically searching for missing loved ones hoping that by some miracle they are still alive."
Chapman pointed to the 23rd Psalm in answer to the question, "Where's the comfort?" amid the crisis.
He cited verse 3: He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake, and reflected on "one of a sheep's greatest dangers."
That danger, Chapman said, "is a condition called 'a cast sheep,'" one that can only be remedied by a shepherd.
"The cast sheep is a sheep who has fallen on its back with its feet straight up in the air and cannot get up on its own power," Chapman said. "A sheep is top-heavy. When it steps the wrong way in a small depression in the ground, its center of gravity shifts and the sheep can fall over on its back. It is powerless to help itself out of this dilemma. If the shepherd fails to restore the sheep, the sheep is vulnerable to attack, loses circulation in its legs, and its breathing is restricted. Without restoration by the shepherd, the sheep will suffocate and die. The shepherd not only restores the weakened sheep to an upright position by gently supporting it and by nursing its wounds, but the shepherd also places the sheep on the right path heading in the right direction.
"Across this country, our souls are downcast," Chapman continued. "This terrorist attack has turned our world upside down. The victims in the planes and buildings experienced the collapsing of their worlds and, yes, even their lives. Likewise, the rest of America has been knocked off her feet emotionally, financially, professionally, and spiritually. We are struggling to get up.
"We need our Shepherd to restore us and to place us on the right path, the path leading back to wholeness and health," Chapman said. "While our government leaders decide [on how to respond to terrorism], we must be more focused on resolvedly sharing the gospel."
SBC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE RESOLUTION ON THE TERRORIST ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ADOPTED SEPTEMBER 17-18, 2001
WHEREAS, Teams of foreign terrorists were guilty of executing most heinous and infamous acts in attacking our nation September 11, 2001, destroying the World Trade Center in New York City, damaging the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and injuring or killing untold thousands of innocent victims; and
WHEREAS, Their horrific actions have left tens of thousands to face the trauma and grief resulting from the injury or murder of their loved ones; and
WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reveals the Lord as "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3), and that "comfort is abundant through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5); and
WHEREAS, God forbids personal revenge (Romans 12:19), and established government to preserve peace and order by punishing evil and seeking justice (Romans 13:4); and
WHEREAS, The President and Congress of the United States, as civil magistrates, are vested with the responsibility of protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty as agents of His justice (Romans 13:1-3), and have been elected by U.S. citizens to protect and preserve the nation; and
WHEREAS, President George W. Bush has announced his unequivocal determination to search for those behind these evil acts, bring them to justice, and lead friends and allies among the nations in resolute war against terrorism; and
WHEREAS, There is credible evidence that certain passengers or flight crew members acted bravely to seize control of the craft and prevent the completion of one of the terrorist acts; and
WHEREAS, Police, firefighters, emergency personnel, and numerous private citizens exhibited courageous fortitude and a commitment to duty in the face of danger in rescue efforts following the attacks; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention expresses utter abhorrence and unconditional condemnation for the cowardly acts of the international criminals responsible for this terrorism; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to render material assistance and to pray that the Lord will extend His grace, comfort, and healing to those injured in the malicious attacks, to their loved ones, and to the loved ones of those slain in these brutal attacks; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we especially honor those heroic persons who died attempting to thwart the attacks and those who gave their lives in rescue efforts following the attacks, and that we offer our heartfelt sympathy and gratitude to their families; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we pledge hearty prayer and unreserved support for our President, his advisors, Congress, and the members of the armed forces as they fulfill their God-given duties in responding to this attack; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to diligently pray that God will turn the hearts of our nation back to Him, and we appeal to our fellow Southern Baptists to join us; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we urge our fellow Southern Baptists to recommit ourselves to minister the gospel to our fellow citizens, in the hope that they may find forgiveness of sin, the gift of eternal life, and the hope that is available only in Christ.