Columbia Astronauts Mourned, But Their Faith Is Celebrated

For some friends of Tracy McCown, children's minister at First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia immediately had religious connotations. With fire raining down from the sky, McCown told The Washington Post, "They were like, 'Oh, my God, it's the rapture!'" She explained, "You know, we're Christians."

And so, many media outlets have been reporting, were some of the astronauts, their families, and their community.

"Rarely has the double identity of Houston been on as clear display as it is now," reports The Baltimore Sun. "The city is a capital of science, where 16,500 people are employed in connection with the nation's quest to explore outer space, and it is a stronghold of faith, a place where 3,000-person church turnouts are common and where Bible groups are as prevalent as softball teams. In other eras and for other people, science and religion have been at odds. In Houston, by all appearances, they are fully reconciled. After all, locals say, both endeavors entail contemplating the firmament. … Now, residents say, the double identity offers strength, two avenues for their grief. While they await hard answers from their scientists, they can seek solace from their church."

And Ground Zero is Grace Community Church, which Columbia Commander Rick D. Husband and crew member Payload Commander Michael Anderson both attended.

"Rick Husband is probably the godliest man I've ever met," Pastor Steve O'Donohoe told Crosswalk.com. "He was such a lover of God and a worker for God, a kind person to everyone else. He's the type of person everyone wants to be like. His wife is the same way."

Husband often "dominated his church's services," The Washington Post reported, "with his comforting ...

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