Members of the University community gathered for an interfaith prayer vigil in the Memorial Chapel last Friday afternoon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11. The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (DKE) sponsored the service, which was open to Middletown residents and all members of the Wesleyan community.
“I looked into trying to see what the University sponsored program was going to be for a prayer service, and when I found out that there wasn’t one, [the DKE brothers] decided as a group that we should get behind organizing one,” said DKE House Manager Matthew Hadge ’13. “We thought it was important for the community to come together in honor of this day.”
University Protestant Chaplain Pastor Joan Burnett said that Hadge approached her to express his interest and ask for assistance in planning the event.
“My response was, ‘Of course!’” wrote Burnett in an email to The Argus. “We only had a couple weeks to plan, but I felt the importance of our community commemorating 9/11 and gathering to pray was a great way to remember, bring healing and call for peace.”
During the event, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and University Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger Teva read a list of University community members who died or who had relatives who died in the attacks on Sept. 11.
“There were members of the Wesleyan community directly impacted, alums among those that died, survived and having lost love ones,” Burnett wrote. “We also have a number of students that are residents of both New York and the District of Columbia. It was important for us to gather to pray in remembrance.”
The multi-denominational service consisted of prayers led by members of both the University and greater Middletown communities, representing Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Catholic faiths. Their sermons followed themes of hope, remembrance, and unity.
“The Wesleyan community is an international community representing the religions of the world,” Burnett wrote. “It was extremely important during this time of spiritual reflection for us to have representatives from each of the major world religions unite in solidarity to pray for one another and also for world peace.”
Hadge said that the decision to include a variety of religious representatives in the prayer vigil was also important to the DKE brothers.
“From the outset we wanted to involve all denominations, and Pastor Joan was great with organizing different religious communities,” Hadge said. “I saw this day as an opportunity to promote solidarity among our community as all-Americans.”
The calls for unity expressed in Pastor Burnett’s welcome and the clergy’s sermons served as a reminder of the shared connections between all people.
“Listening to the prayers offered by the different religious leaders, I was reminded how minor the differences between us are, and how tragic it is that such small differences can incite so much hatred,” said Peter Cramer ’14.
Attendees lit candles, sang together, and participated in a moment of silence. The event also included music played by Ethnomusicology doctoral candidate Sie Ng, and was followed by a reception in Zelnick Pavilion.