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Americans Flock to Churches After Terror Attack - 2001-09-12

Churches throughout the United States were filled Tuesday evening with people praying for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and near Washington. Many houses of worship also planned vigils for Wednesday.

At University Lutheran Church in East Lansing, Michigan - as in countless houses of worship throughout the country - Americans turned away from television coverage of the terrorist attacks and gathered to reflect on the day's events and pray for the victims. "So we pray for so many people," said the pastor. "Our hearts are heavy. Only you know how many have died."

Many people came forward to light a small candle and place it with others in a large bowl filled with sand. So many participated in this gesture that the first candles placed in the sand were nearly burned down by the time the last one was lit.

Several people in attendance were members of other churches and other faiths. Mahmoud Mousa heads the local Islamic Center. He said he came looking for solace rather than answers. "A sense of peace, yes. I am sure everybody is hurt and everybody is praying for the people and their families, and for the whole nation to recover and stay solid," he said."

Several mourners came with their families. Some, like Curt Newman were still trying to figure out how to explain the attacks to their young children. "That is going to be difficult," he said. "I am not sure yet. I am not sure there is a good explanation. One will come."

The Lansing Roman Catholic Diocese declared Wednesday a special Day of Prayer, and is urging everyone to spend part of the day in quiet prayer or reflection.