Faith Matters for Aug. 27, 2011

The idea came to the Rev. Oren Conner almost as soon as he was installed in February as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge: With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks falling on a Sunday, his church should be among those holding special services that day.

The First Baptist event titled “Remembering the Fallen and Celebrating Freedom” is set for 5 p.m. at the church, 529 Convention St.

“We thought it would be a good time for our church to get together with our leaders and spend a few moments remembering those who lost their lives and honoring those who continue to serve today and protect,” Conner said.

Among those invited to be honored are military, police, firefighters, first-responders and other officials.

“I don’t know if we thank them enough,” Conner said.

Special guests will include Mayor Kip Holden, Police Chief Dewayne White, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

Also featured will be conductor Benjamin Harlan, the Brass Quintet from LSU, the Marine Color Guard, Boy Scouts and Caledonian Pipe and Drums.

Conner said the program will not be a political event, but rather a spiritual gathering with plenty of congregational singing and a combined choir of several churches.

But Conner said the top priority is praising God for freedom and for sparing the country from any other major attacks since that fateful day.

“I do believe that God ordained by his will our freedom, and it’s not for us to abuse or take for granted,” Conner said.

For information, call (225) 343-0397.

Other 10th anniversary events for Sept. 11 include:

• St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 14040 Greenwell Springs Road, will hold a Blue Mass at 10 a.m. to honor public servants and remember those who sacrificed their lives.

“We thought this being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, something so serious and traumatic that happened on our home turf, we needed to have some kind of special Mass in honor of and in memory of those who that sacrificed for us to continue for us having our freedom,” said Vicki Whittington, a member of the event’s organizing committee.

Firefighters, police, EMTs and first-responders will be recognized and a wreath will be presented in memory of fallen heroes, she said. Former Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff will speak.

• The Interfaith Federa-tion of Greater Baton Rouge will offer a Moveable Pray-for-Peace Vigil from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with several congregations from a variety of faith traditions serving as hosts for prayer during that time as well as a community gathering for peace from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St Joseph Cathedral, 412 North St. Go online to http://www.ifedgbr.com for more details.

‘Faith in action’

Faith Presbyterian Church, 12855 Old Hammond Highway, is hitting the streets to connect and show love to its neighbors.

The church has canceled its regular church service on Sept. 11, choosing instead to lead three community outreach projects in what is being called “Faith in Action! Be the Church!”

“We want to redefine what worship is,” said the Rev. John Blewitt, the church’s pastor. “Instead of sitting in the pews as we do on typical Sunday, we’re going to serve others in neighborhood.”

Church members and other volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. and have a short devotional time before dividing into three ministry groups.

One group will lead a worship service at a local nursing home, while another will paint at Twin Oaks Elementary School and a third will prepare plastic grocery bags to be made into portable mats for the homeless.

“It just so happens to fall that way (on Sept. 11), but as Christians we want to respond to any kind of tragedy or attack with love and generosity,” Blewitt said.

To help out, call the church at (225) 275-7393.

‘First Sunday’

The first Sunday following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was one of great emotions in places of worship throughout the nation.

A new book “First Sunday: Spiritual Responses to Their 9-11 Attacks” offers 20 sermons preached that day with those same ministers providing insights today of what went into the message.

The messages from several denominations and faith traditions were compiled by Donald Robert Elton and Aura Agudo Elton and dealt with God’s judgment, forgiving and healing. The 256-page book also includes a message President George W. Bush delivered during a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service at the National Cathedral in Washington. D.C.

“In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom,” Bush said. “They have attacked America because we are freedom’s home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.”

The Rev. Travis Moore of Outreach in Vista, Calif., encapsulated the theme of so many other fellow ministers with, “Where Was God on 9-11-11.”

“The same place he was when Jesus hung on the Cross - enduring the pain for the benefit of others - He wasn’t just sitting idle and helpless as His Son suffered. He was using the schemes of wicked hearts to bring about the redemption of mankind - So was God on 9-11? God may not prevent future acts of terrorism, but He will provide peace to those hearts that are filled with hatred if they will turn to Him.”

Coaching Bible study

“Don’t Waste Your Coaching” will be the theme of the Legacy Bible Study this fall at Istrouma Baptist Church, 10500 Sam Rushing Road.

The study will be held 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting Sept. 7 and continuing through Nov. 17 in the Worship Center Chapel.

M.L. Woodruff, former longtime high school coach, will lead the study based on the book “Don’t Waste Your Sports” by C. J. Mahaney.

“We have opportunities as coaches to influence our players, their parents and the community,” said Woodruff, head of the Istrouma Sports Organization at Istrouma Baptist.

To register, go to http://www.istrouma.org. For more information, contact Woodruff at (225) 295-0775, ext. 118 or email mlwoodruff@istrouma.org.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday. Contact Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.