Title: University joins community for prayer vigil
Just a week ago, students, staff and community members came together at Anderson University to mourn the loss of several of their own. Tuesday night they gathered again in Reardon Auditorium, this time to pray for an entire nation. In the aftermath of the tragedies in New York and Washington, D.C., Anderson University opened its doors to area churches for a community prayer vigil. University President James Edwards welcomed the audience of nearly 600 people, saying that church leaders had been calling each other throughout the day to find a way for congregations to meet. He made the purpose of the night very clear (PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press).
"We bring our hearts and our minds together on the close of this unspeakably tragic day," Edwards said in his opening statement. "To spend time together to express our heartfelt concerns to God and be together in prayer."
Edwards said the students of Anderson University had already held a similar vigil.
"This was a place of prayer when the students gathered for chapel. We had several groups praying around this place," Edwards said. "Now again it is a house of prayer."
Edwards was accompanied by several area pastors and church leaders on Reardon's stage. The Revs. Jim Lyon, pastor of North Anderson Church of God, and Kerry Robinson, senior pastor of East Side Church of God, were among those who spoke to the crowd. Lyon spoke of the nation's false sense of security.
"We have fancied that oceans would protect us," Lyon said. "Today we know different. We stand before you (God) humbled that we are not immune." Robinson tried to provide an answer that he said had been on the minds of many since the beginning of the tragedy.
"There has been a question in all of our minds since this morning," Robinson said. "Does God know?"
Robinson then read from Psalm 139, which speaks of God knowing everything about man, from his thoughts to his actions. He said the verse answers the question. "God knows the name of the people in the Trade Center. He knows the name of the people on the street corners and those who ran for cover," Robinson said. "And he knows every family ... whose heart was broken today."
In addition to the words of encouragement provided by the pastors, Fred Meadows, musical director at East Side, vocalists Brock Thornsbrough, Amie Cisney and Robin Salle and pianist Scott Green provided music to comfort the crowd. The service included several hymns whose themes focused on coming together and trusting in God. Green urged the crowd to trust in God's promises.
"There is a tremendous amount of fear tonight," Green said. "We don't need to fear. God is here."
The service ended in a time of individual and group prayer. Several worshippers held hands and prayed aloud together, wiping away tears of grief and of hope. And though the vigil lasted just an hour, the prayers will likely continue for the next several days, weeks and months as the nation tries to recover from Tuesday's tragic events.
---HEATHER SCHWARTZ is a staff reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.