With U.S. air travel grounded, mail delivery halted and phone lines into New York City and elsewhere hard to access, church-related relief agencies have had to rely on the Internet for much of their communication.
"At the moment communications are next to impossible with our congregations, synods, districts, social ministry organizations," said Gil Furst, director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Domestic Disaster Response Program. "They will all be part of our response."
ELCA congregations throughout the U.S. would be open for shelter and prayer, Furst said, and asked that pastors "be available for prayer and counselling."
The mood in New York City remained grim but determined. In one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities in the world, churches, synagogues and mosques remained opened for prayer in the wake of the unprecedented terrorist attack, and numerous New Yorkers sought solace at places of worship.
But only one day after the two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the landmark World Trade Center, a high level of uncertainty reigned in the city, where the number of fatalities is believed to be in the thousands.
US officials were evaluating early clues that responsibility for the attacks—which also included the Pentagon and the hijacking of a fourth plane that crashed in western Pennsylvania—may lie with Islamic militant Osama Bin Laden, who is believed to be in exile in Afghanistan.
There were reports of sporadic harassment of Arab residents in some parts of New York and Chicago, and a number of well-known Muslim-owned stores and restaurants in the borough of Brooklyn remained closed, apparently from fear of violence.
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's attacks, Islamic institutions in many cities were placed under round-the-clock police guard, the Guardian said.
Leaders of the U.S. Muslim community—estimated to be 3.5 million strong—have issued statements of grief, and have called on Muslims to offer assistance to relief efforts. But they have also tried to prepare for public anti-Muslim sentiment, in some cases telling members not to wear "distinctly Islamic dress in public," the Guardian reported.
"This is a terrible time, not only for Muslims but for all believing people who believe in coexistence," said Mohamad Yusuff, editor of the Washington-area Voice of Islam newspaper. "No true Muslim would do anything like [these attacks]."
The fear of inter-religious tension caused both New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan to warn against expressions of vengeance against Arab Americans. "Hate never begets peace," Egan said at an September 11 homily at St Patrick's Cathedral in mid-town Manhattan. "Justice does."
Most emergency efforts continued to focus on finding possible survivors, and thousands in the New York area awaited word on the fate of missing family members and friends.
Copyright © 2001 ENI.
Yahoo has compiled aid organization contact information, closure notification, and survivor lists.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Domestic Disaster Response staff members are involved in a response to Tuesday's hijackings and explosions.
Christianity Today's other articles on the attacks include:
Christians Provide Comfort in the Shadow of Calamity | Still "stunned and reeling," New Yorkers seek support at prayer service. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Shaken Christians Turn to Prayer | Impromptu services usher in the bereaved by word of mouth, road signs, and e-mail. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Illinois Pastor on Fatal Flight | Jeffrey Mladenik, 43, was involved in workplace ministry, international adoption. (Sept. 13, 2001)
When Sin Reigns | An event like this shows us what humans are capable of becoming—both as children of darkness and of light. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Reflections on Suffering | Classic and contemporary quotations for dark times. (Sept. 13, 2001)
In the Belly of the Beast | Christians, calling terrorist attack "satanically brilliant," minister at epicenter of World Trade disaster. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Churches, Agencies Respond to Attacks | Leaders call for prayer, justice, and mercy. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Muslims Fear a Backlash | No matter who is responsible, observers feel a reaction will still be present. (Sept. 12, 2001)
A Wake-Up Call to Become Global Christians | The deadly attacks on America will provoke many responses, but Christians are commanded to love our neighbors. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Nation's Religious Leaders Urge Calm, Pray for Peace | Churches will maintain prayer vigils for victims and leaders. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Church Leaders Around World Deplore 'Unspeakable Horror' of Attack | Christians urged to unite in prayer as they unite in shock and denunciation. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Experts Say Spiritual Roots Will Aid in Coping With Catastrophe | Pray and connect with others, advise nation's chaplains. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Fear and Hate | In times like this, as in all other times, Christians have a responsibility to love above all else. (Sept. 11, 2001)
God's Message in the Language of Events | In the face of evil, we must focus on keeping our hearts right. (Sept. 11, 2001)
The Text This Week, a resource for pastors, has collected sermons and reflections in response to the Sept. 11 events.
The BBC has compiled reactions from world leaders (with video).
President Bush addressed the nation on Tuesday evening (video | transcript). He also released a statement Tuesday afternoon. Bush first learned of the World Trade Center tragedy while preparing to speak to schoolchildren in Sarasota, Fla.. There, he asked Amercians for a moment of silence for the victims.
Slate.com explained who responds to crisis situations.
An Interpol report details the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Previous Christianity Today articles on Muslim-Christian relations include:
How Muslims See Christianity | Many Muslims don't understand Christianity—especially the idea of salvation by grace through faith.
Islamic Fundamentals | Christians have a responsibility to understand our Muslim neighbors and their beliefs
Islam, U.S.A. | Are Christians prepared for Muslims in the mainstream?
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more