The Words of the Winings Family
September 16, 2001
Dear E-Cornerstone Folk:
Getting into "ground zero" was quite an experience. I went with Jorg Heller, Eric Holt (UTS '94), Robert Kittel (UTS '93), Mike Leone and Phillip Schanker. What I experienced is well-described by another UTS'er who has spent much more time there than I, Dr. Kathy Winings. I resonate with everything she says, including the holiness of the place, consecrated with blood. I can't explain why, but I consider the bottle of water that a Salvation Army volunteer gave me as I was leaving to be holy water. Everything I got while I was there seems holy to me. I in no way expected anything like that. The closer in you got, the more the love. Probably because everyone is standing on the edge together, suffering, serving. Everyone asked for prayer. Everyone had a different story about how and why they were there, and each person was happy to tell it to you. The place is like Hades, shrouded in smoke (I was there late at night), and an American flag flies in front of the burned out "Millennium" on the front of the Millennium Hotel. That's the picture: a fresh flag and a burned out Millennium. It's like the counterpoint of the Millennial celebration on Times Square, as Altamont was to Woodstock.
One local minister, in Hyde Park, a liberal, justified hanging the flag in the church in a deep way. It could not be jingo-ism, or idolatry; he fears such. But he hung it because the American flag, more than the cross, represents all Americans.
In a message dated 9/15/01 11:28:44 PM, IRFFint writes:
Report from Ground Zero: the site is not at all like on the TV. It is more terrible in many ways, looms far greater than one feels on the one dimensional television. Hopefully you will see some of that yourself. The spirit of the people range widely from hope to despair to determination. As one person said, it is a holy place where people gave their lives for something beyond themselves. There is that spirit and more - with the spirit world of those who are newly entering that realm and so are confused and wo ndering. The rescue side of it has people working long arduous hours to take care of the rescue teams and families of victims. The Salvation Army command center is a truly dedicated place. The love and sacrificial feeling is overwhelming at times. People with nothing financially are giving the most it seems.
Today, we began our response with a full group of people making sandwiches. We made over 7,000 today. Tomorrow, again we have a full turnout planned. We are still taking names for the rest of the week. In addition, there is a small group from Christian Disaster Response coming to begin assessment before bringing in other supplies. They have a mobile home with them and flags and trauma specialists. Soon, they hope to train any pastor and congregation in grief work and helping with needs assessment as well for any church interested or individual.
I am advertising this as a joint effort of IRFF and UTS. Already the pastors I have worked with are amazed and grateful. They are also happy to hear of another seminary in NYC.
See you on Monday.
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