Many houses of worship throughout the United States commemorated the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks Wednesday with special prayer services. One of the more unusual services was held Wednesday night in Chicago near the top of the tallest building in the United States.
The parishioners of St. Sabina's Roman Catholic Church in Chicago wanted to mark September 11 with a prayer service, but wanted to do more than simply have it at their church. Father Michael Pfleger said they decided to worship on the 99th floor of the Sears Tower.
"We are here because one of the weapons of the terrorists is fear, and we have suffered a lot of fear over this and suffer today. We decided as a community of faith that we would fight fear with faith," Father Pfleger said.
The tower was closed for six weeks after last September's attacks while its security was tightened. Still, some of the ten thousand people who work here have moved onto other jobs, out of fear that the Sears Tower might be a terrorist target. Father Pfleger said his parishioners were eager to express their faith by coming here tonight.
"We did not have enough room for everybody that wanted to come. We had about 500 people signed up and we only had capacity for 300 here," he said.
Worshippers lined the windows, stretched their hands out over the city, roughly 300-meters below, and recited Christian Bible passages about fear and faith.
"Even though I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," worshippers said as they prayed.
Byam Alexander of Chicago was in the crowd with his young daughter. He said he came both to pray and to make a statement.
"Because of the fact that there was a lot of fear about being around tall buildings. We know that our God is a sovereign God. He is Lord; he will protect us, so there is definitely a great sense of peace in coming out here tonight," he said.
Like many attractions in Chicago, admission to the Sears Tower observation deck was free on this Wednesday. Tower officials said attendance was a little lower than it usually is on a weekday in September.