Ramesh C. Reddy
Editor in Chief
Last year on Sept 11, 2001, as terrorism rocked the United States of America, more than 300 students from the Pittsburgh community congregated outside Heinz Chapel’s patio overlooking the Cathedral of Learning around 10:00 pm on a Tuesday night for a prayer vigil.
Dan Kirk, a campus minister for the Greater Pittsburgh Church of Christ who decided to have this vigil with members of his ministry was surprised to see the turnout.
“Originally few of us were going to get together to pray and the next thing I know fliers were being passed out by someone not even affiliated with our ministry. It was powerful to see how people of different backgrounds can be unified. I was expecting 20-30 people and it turned out to 300”, said Kirk.
Greg Vost, a Pitt freshman came because he heard people talking about it and was touched.
“I thought it was great how it turned out. “[I was] surprised how many people showed up. It was touching.
Around 6:00 pm, Michael Guss, a Pitt senior found out about the vigil and decided to go to Kinko’s to make fliers that he passed out across campus. The flier mentioned that the prayer vigil was for victims of the terrible tragedy and it would be held in front of the Heinz Chapel on the Cathedral lawn.
He invited people from all walks of life.
“The students on campus need a vigil”, said Guss.
The vigil started out with the songs, ‘Amazing Grace’ ‘Unto thee Oh Lord, do I lift up my soul’ and ‘Humble thyself in the presence of the Lord.’
As people of different religions and ethnicity continued to pour in for the vigil, the prayer time began with Psalm 23.
Excerpts from Psalm 23 state “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” (Psalm 23, KJV)
The prayer time focused on 3 different areas in which 7 different volunteers within the crowd were chosen to lead each area of prayer. They prayed for the victims & families after Psalm 23 was read, world leaders after 1 Timothy 2:1-4 was read, and for God’s glory to be shown reflecting on John 9:1-3 was read.
Throughout the prayer time only 31 people decided to leave. The vigil ended 11:10 pm with a reading from 1 John 4:17-21.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:1, KJV)
After it was over students from different universities responded with positive thoughts.
“I think the most important thing was that people from different faiths: Hindus, Jews, Muslims, [and] Christians came together and hopefully this can happen one day in Jerusalem and throughout the world”, said Guss.
Missy Vensel, a grad student was attending from Robert Morris College.
“I definitely think [it is] inspiring no matter what background and religion to come together to be unified as a campus and people”, said Vensel.
Karintha Tervalon, a junior at Chatam College echoed her sentiments.
“I feel like tonight was awesome because people were there from different places to turn to God in a tough time”, said Tervalon.
After the vigil Robert Ness, a Pitt sophomore reacted in the Towers lobby regarding the vigil.
“I liked the encouragement of the theme of unity, being peaceful and not jumping towards violence, empathy towards the Arab community. I knew people involved in the tragedy”, said Ness.
Becky Williams, a junior at Chatam College echoed Ness’ views.
“We could empathize with one another and [have] sympathy and praying for one another was great”, said Williams.
Editors note: This article originally appeared in the October print edition of the Pittsburgh Standard
Give us your feedback if you agree or disagree
View other reader's feedback