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Remembering Sept. 11
By Olivia Boler
As the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon draws near, some may find they want to gather with others to reflect on what has passed. In and around Noe Valley, many centers of spirituality and community will do their part to memorialize the tragedy.
According to Rev. Keenan Kelsey, the Noe Valley Ministry on Sanchez Street will hold an open worship service on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. People are invited to come at will to hear live music on flute, piano, and guitar, and songs and hymns from the choir. Alternating with the music will be prayers, candle lightings, and readings.
"We will also invite people to share their own reflections at various times during the service," Kelsey says.
The church's Sunday services on Sept. 8 and 15 at 10:30 a.m. will also honor the victims of Sept. 11 with times set aside for reflection. In addition, on Monday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m., the Ministry, which is a member of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., will host a speaker, Rev. Gilbert Shaheen Al-Bazi, who is a Presbyterian pastor ministering to refugees in Basrah, Iraq. For information about these and other Noe Valley Ministry events, call 282-2317 or check the church's web site at www.noevalleyministry.org.
The morning of Sept. 11, St. Paul's Church at 221 Valley Street will hold a mass at 8:30 a.m. and a special prayer service at 11 a.m. The church also wants the neighborhood to know that the Archdiocese of San Francisco will make St. Mary's Cathedral available for the whole day, and that there will be a 7:30 a.m. interfaith service there followed by a reception. St. Mary's Cathedral is located at 1111 Gough Street. For further details call St. Paul's at 648-7538.
Noe Valley's other Catholic church, St. Philip's Church at 725 Diamond Street, will offer a memorial prayer service on Sept. 11, most likely at noon, according to Father Michael Healy. Call 282-0141 for the exact time.
Sanctuary in a Garden
Bethany United Methodist Church at the corner of Sanchez and Clipper will open its sanctuary all day to the public, and there will be a prayer service led by Rev. Karen Oliveto at noon. Susan Foster, a staff member at Bethany, describes the sanctuary as a quiet, warmly lit place.
The church also recently dedicated a garden located at 2299 Market Street near Noe, across from the Baghdad Café. On Sept. 11, the garden will be open all day and there will be a 7 p.m. prayer service. Foster encourages people to stop by, especially since the garden is not often open to the public. "It's an oasis in the middle of a very busy intersection," she says, a serene place with grass and flowering plants, two benches for sitting, and murals on the surrounding walls. Someone will be on hand at the garden to greet visitors. For more information, call 647-8393.
At 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, Pastor Joe Bell of the Church at San Francisco, the bright blue Pentecostal church that has long occupied the corner of Church and 28th streets, will host a spiritual tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11. The theme will be "Where Do We Go from Here?" and the service will include songs, a moment of silence, a bell salute, and thoughts from the community. Call the church at 642-0302 for further details.
Seminar on Six World Religions
Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, located at 455 Fair Oaks Street, has a regular Wednesday evening gathering at 6 p.m. However, on Sept. 11 the church will push it back to 6:30 p.m. There will be a memorial Eucharist, and Rev. Rosa Lee Harden will preside.
"This is a time for people to deal with feelings of lingering grief," says Rev. John Kirkley of Holy Innocents. "After the tragedy last year, there was a sense of terrible shock and grief in our community, and then a concern beyond that for people to find a way to move towards a place of forgiveness and healing. Of course, there's the large issue of justice, but many have expressed concern with not losing sight of the underlying issues of poverty and misunderstanding, in many ways the causes of the attacks. Many members of our church feel that we need to resolve the underlying tensions and causes in a non-violent way."
Also, starting Sept. 25, Kirkley will lead a six-part series on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. titled "Building Bridges of Understanding," a curriculum developed by the California Council of Churches.
"It will be an opportunity for people to form an understanding of people of other faiths," says Kirkley. "It's an introduction to the six major faiths of the world: Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism. We hope the workshop will promote reconciliation and understanding for other traditions." To find out more, call Holy Innocents at 824-5142.
In the same spirit of understanding and education, the Congregation of Sha'ar Zahav will hold an interfaith memorial on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. There will be clergy and representatives from various faiths to support the community in coming together for a service, which will be open to everyone. The synagogue is located at 290 Dolores Street. For more information call 861-6932.
Day of Remembrance
If you feel that you would rather stay in the secular realm, there are of course other options.
The City of San Francisco will hold a "Day of Remembrance," beginning with a 5:15 a.m. ceremony at City Hall officiated by Mayor Willie Brown. Throughout the day (doors open at 4:30 a.m.), people are invited to come to City Hall to sign a commemorative book, which will be sent to the New York Memorial on behalf of the citizens of San Francisco.
Representatives from the mayor's office, the Board of Supervisors, and the Arab Cultural Center, among others, will also attend a public tribute to the heroes and victims of Sept. 11 from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. at Crissy Field. There will be tributes and prayers from the interfaith community (Glide Memorial, Grace Cathedral, and Metropolitan Community Church) and a moment of silence at 5:45 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. Also planned is a flyover by the Blue Angels.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a blood drive in its 12th-floor offices at 235 Montgomery Street. The event, which is open to all interested donors, runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; call 392-4520 if you have questions.
At 6 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony will hold a free outdoor memorial concert at Yerba Buena Gardens at Mission and Fourth streets. The concert will feature work by American composers and will include Leonard Bernstein's "New York, New York," Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," and Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." Violinist Joshua Bell will be the featured soloist, and Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct.
For links to these and other community events, see www.sfdayofremembrance.com.
A Call to Activism
Back in the neighborhood, Global Exchange on 24th Street will display a peace altar in its window at the beginning of the month. Shell Mae, the store's manager, hopes the altar will inspire people to remember the sadness of the tragedy, but also to work towards peace.
"In the past, we've done a Day of the Dead window with wishes for peace," says Mae. "Last year, we put up pictures of the World Trade Center, as well as images of peace and justice including activists such at Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Chief Joseph, and John F. Kennedy." The store also posted a list of the names of the Sept. 11 victims.
Global Exchange also arranged tours to Afghanistan right after Sept. 11 -- for the victims' families, as well as for the victims of the bombings in Afghanistan. The store continues to arrange these tours, Mae says.
"We want to help people understand why this happened rather than react before they know what's going on. We created the 'Our Community Is a Hate-Free Zone' poster after the attacks and gave them away. We still have them, and people are welcome to pick up as many as they want."
Mae says she realizes that many people are trying to put Sept. 11 out of their minds. But during the month of September, it will be difficult not to think about that horrible day.
"People don't talk about it anymore," Mae says. "But we hope they'll start to think about it again and that activism will be reinvigorated once more."