By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
Attempting to find some meaning and provide comfort to a grieving community following last Tuesdays terrorist attack on the East Coast, area clergy delivered a 45-minute prayer service at Geiser Pollman Park Friday attended by some 200 residents.
Fridays service was one of thousands held across the nation. President George W. Bush called on every American family and the family of America to observe a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.
After the service, participants paraded to the Baker County Courthouse, where a torch to honor those who died in military service to their nation was relighted.
During the prayer service, clusters of residents alternated listening as clergy offered their prayers and breaking into small groups to offer prayers of their own. Service organizer Roger Scovil, pastor of the Baker City Christian Church, asked those gathered to confess the sins of the nation, later requesting that people pray for their enemies, the families of those touched by the attack, and for rescue workers still on the job.
Participants also signed a pair of guest books that will be forwarded to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Scovil said that the attacks could be attributed in part to our nation being in the midst of chaos for some time. We abort babies, and weve turned our backs on God. But nothing happens outside God's control.
We come into your presence, God, because we know it is to you that we must run. What people intend for evil, God intends for good. (Terrorists) intended to destroy what they call the Great Satan, but you, God, can turn that around for good. We may have our differences, but we know God can help us work together in time of tragedy.
Mike Cross, a counselor in private practice and the president of the local ministerial alliance, prayed for caution on the part of the nations political leaders and its residents as well.
In times like this, we feel we can run to God and jump in his lap, he said, noting that often when Jesus prayed, he called God Abba, a word meaning Daddy.
We want to be known as your children and your country. Help us to drop the weapons of the world and take up the cross.
We pray that justice will be served, but that retaliation will not be tolerated. Help us to stop killing innocent people, both in our nation and in others.
It was no mistake that the two airlines involved were United and American, because today we are united Americans.
Allan Franks, pastor of the Baker First Church of the Nazarene, prayed that God would remind Satan that he is a defeated foe. The pain were feeling cannot be comforted by anybody but (God).
Dennis Hickman, pastor of the First Lutheran Church, reminded participants of Pauls biblical words of comfort to the church in Rome: I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
After the group had walked to the courthouse, former County Judge Ralph Ward, a veteran of the Second World War, had the honor of lighting the torch on the buildings east lawn to honor the nations service men and women.
I have absolute faith in America, and have no fear at all that well meet the challenge, Ward said during a ceremony to mark the occasion.
Ward noted some of the 142 names on the veterans memorial upon which the torch sits, all of whom came from Baker County: Frank Brown, who died aboard the USS Arizona; Bill Studer, who died in the Battle of Guadalcanal; and Marvin Wellman, a member of General George Pattons Third Army who died when a mortar struck him.
They were ordinary people, not supermen, Ward said. They knew their job and they did it.
Up until Friday, the flame had not been lit since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, said Baker County Commission Chair Brian Cole. Cole said hed been thinking of relighting the flame when the Olympic torch passes through Baker City in January, but said Friday we will not wait for that opportunity. The time is now to restore our symbols of peace, freedom and bravery.
My intention, he said, is for this to burn forever.