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NYC is a place where we can be friends, Pastor Taylor Field, East 7th Street Baptist Church-Graffiti

I was at Ground Zero soon after the fall of the second tower.  I had wrapped my shirt around my mouth because it was difficult to breath.  I was looking to assure that my son was okay.  He went to a high school nearby.  I was amazed at how totally silent it all was.  I […]

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"We must not be enemies," Abraham Lincoln at his First Inaugural Address. Combined photos.

I was at Ground Zero soon after the fall of the second tower.  I had wrapped my shirt around my mouth because it was difficult to breath.  I was looking to assure that my son was okay.  He went to a high school nearby.  I was amazed at how totally silent it all was.  I speculate now that the powdery material under my feet muffled the sound of everything, almost like snow.

I was and still am the minister of a mission over twenty blocks away from the World Trade Center area.  People in our sphere and our church lost family members on that day. Yet I feel, like so many, that every party involved now must review what is fair and what is legal.  We need to ask what fellow citizens and owners of private property have a right to do in our city.  As emotions rise, I know that some have thought of Lincoln's appeal to the "better angels of our nature" in his first inaugural address.  This is always good advice as people move toward divisiveness.  A sentence or two before Lincoln closed that speech, he also made this comment, which in retrospect seems even more timely:  "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies."  Words evoke emotions which evoke actions.  We need to speak with care.Note: Pastor Field's ministry specializes in innovative ways to practice compassion to the poor, abused and unwanted. Field has written several books on his ministry. A Church called Graffiti tells Field's journey through the turbulent and chaotic days of the Lower East Side.Squat:  A Novel portrays 24 hours of life on the street through the eyes of a homeless man named Squid. Mercy Streets is the pastor’s reflections on learning to see cities in a different way.  His experiences in Berlin, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and mostly New York City bring him to a distinct perspective of ministry in the urban scene. He can be contacted at The Graffiti Church, 212.473.0044 or carmen@graffitichurch.org. We have asked religious leaders with congregations or church affiliates near Ground Zero to respond to Mayor Bloomberg's speeches on religion and religious freedom in the city and the mosque controversies. OpEds do not necessarily reflect the views of A Journey.

5 Responses to “NYC is a place where we can be friends, Pastor Taylor Field, East 7th Street Baptist Church-Graffiti” Leave a reply ›

  • Hello guys, I am Erica and I am want to post this text at my own website, with link to your blog, for my visitors.

  • Saturday, 7pm St Patrick's Cathedral, 5th and 50th, Remembrance Concert. Very good program, get there early. nychoral.org

  • It's Sept 11th tomorrow, and I kind of wanted to go to a memorial service somewhere, particularly as I am in New York. Do you know about anything that might be going on?

  • Who could forget September 11, just nine years ago? Please refresh your spirit with some Bible passages, Ground Zero pictures, and our son’s personal testimony of a timely encounter with the Living God—all at http://www.RememberSeptember11.us. Please share this website with others, too.

    May this September 11 be a fruitful time of reflection and renewal for you.

    Your brother,

    Paul de Vries

  • Dear Congregation,

    We know that you share our concern about the controversy and growing tensions around the proposed community center in the vicinity of Ground Zero. As September 11 approaches, the Collegiate Ministers are increasingly concerned about the potential for violence in our city and around the world. We have composed a statement that has been vetted by the Executive Committee of the Collegiate Church, which is attached for you to see. Because the use of it is time sensitive, we were left with the task of pursuing its best use to speak into the life of our community. With tensions mounting, voices need to be heard that call for the cessation of polemical rhetoric, and leaders need to step forward who are willing to work with all concerned parties to help facilitate civil dialog toward peace and reconciliation. We believe that our leadership at this time can have a unique impact on unfolding events.

    After several meetings yesterday, we have agreed to have this statement placed in The New York Times on Friday as a way to call our city to peace. Further, we will be holding a press conference at Intersections on Friday at 10:00 a.m.

    Pray for peace, and thanks for the wonderful positive and inclusive ministries you facilitate in this Collegiate family.

    Charlie, Michael, Bob, Michael and Jacqui

    Senior Ministers of the Collegiate Church

    p.s. I will be hosting a meeting on this issue on Tuesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. in the Education Center, room A/B. All are invited to attend. The goal is not to define our position but to create space to listen and learn from one another. WECC has a long history of being a community committed to peace, and we strive to be a safe place to discuss the issues that matter most to us. During this time of tumult and tension, I hope and pray we can help each other and the community around as we follow our call to "pursue peace with everyone." Michael

    A Call to Reconciliation

    We are blessed to be part of a particular community called the Collegiate Church of New York with almost four hundred years of continuous ministry in this city. We gather not only as individuals, but as communities through which we can impact the world around us. We are drawn together by Jesus' calling to love one another, and we share a common vocation of pursuing peace with all people (John 13.34 & Hebrews 12.14). It is from this basis that we, as a community of believers, offer the following comments on the controversy that has been generated by the proposal to develop a Muslim Community Center in lower Manhattan.

    We live in the midst of God's marvelous mosaic. New York City and its environs is a place of cultural diversity and religious pluralism. The positive and inclusive nature of the Christian faith compels us to respect all people, listen to diverse viewpoints, and work in partnership with those who seek peace and the good of our community. While we pursue the path to truth and life through Jesus Christ, our Christian tradition and our American heritage promote the freedom of all people to seek their own religious paths and to worship however and wherever they wish.

    We also recognize that there are deep wounds that still remain from the terrorist attack on our city on September 11, 2001. We honor the courage of first responders and advocate for appropriate health care benefits to address their ongoing medical issues. We grieve with those who suffered losses of loved ones on that day, and we acknowledge that the space formerly occupied by the twin towers holds a sacred place in the hearts of all Americans.

    As we watch the fury over the community center intensify, we are also grieved by the mischaracterization of people and positions. A prime example is the way the Muslim leaders involved in this initiative have had their intent, beliefs, and character maligned. We are saddened to see our Muslim neighbors, friends, and colleagues so misrepresented. They are part of the rich heritage and religious tapestry of New York City, and they have done much to contribute to its well-being. Islam, like Christianity, is a large and diverse faith, and one cannot use one experience or expression of Islam to stereotype all Muslims, nor can all be indicted for the acts of a few. We also deplore the portrayal of Christianity as anti-Muslim through the desecration of their sacred text. Our faith calls us to respect others and to strive to represent them fairly. Doing so does not eliminate the space to disagree; it speaks to how we represent ourselves and others with integrity in the midst of disagreement.

    The polarizing nature of the debate has left us listening solely for whether people are "for" or "against" the community center. The voices in the middle are being crowded out by extreme positions on both sides. In order to cultivate room to learn from one another and to create greater understanding among all concerned, we believe any engagement of this issue must be based on the following:

    First, we call for civil dialogue where the rights of all people are respected. We recognize that the current controversy, in many ways, represents a conversation that we as a people never had after September 11. Moving forward, we pledge ourselves to be engaged in settings and venues where interfaith dialogue and cooperation is fostered throughout the city and beyond. We call upon all those who would exploit this situation for their own personal agendas through demagoguery and the demonization of others to cease their rhetoric and extend their ears and their hearts to all.

    Second, we commit ourselves and encourage others to learn more about Islam. If the current controversy has shown anything, it is the great misunderstanding about the faith of Muslims.

    Third, we commit ourselves and encourage others to learn the facts surrounding the proposed community center. No reasoned discussion can occur unless we have a common understanding of what is being proposed.

    Fourth, we commit ourselves and encourage others to build relationships of trust between those carrying divergent positions in this controversy. A lack of trust prevents us from listening and learning from one another, and there will be no successful resolution without some measure of trust between those involved.

    Because of who we are and who we are called to be, we celebrate a vision of cultural diversity and religious tolerance, a setting where we can learn about one another, participate across lines of race, faith, culture, and socioeconomic condition to be faithful to our calling in this city. Therefore we are committed to work with the organizers of Park51 and all concerned parties as a reconciling agent so that there is a new way for the residents of this city and all Americans to move forward into a new future in which civil dialogue leads to healing and understanding.

    Rev. Michael S. Bos, West End Collegiate Church
    Rev. Dr. Michael B. Brown, Marble Collegiate Church
    Rev. Robert Chase, Intersections International
    Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church
    Rev. Charles D. Morris, Fort Washington Collegiate Church

    September 10, 2010

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