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Prayer service comforts Meridian residents

By Staff
IN SILENCE n Inmate Scott Duett kneels at the alter of First Baptist Church during local recognition of Friday's day of National Prayer and Remembrance. The church was filled with people from a variety of religions and walks of life. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star.
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Sept. 15, 2001
With their voices trembling, Meridian leaders struggled to comfort an overflow crowd at First Baptist Church on Friday.
Some people sobbed, all of them prayed. And Meridian joined the rest of the nation in a day of prayer and remembrance after this week's terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.
Those who gathered at the noon prayer service came from various churches and walks of life, all for one cause to pray for peace, to pray for those who died and to pray for those who survived.
Some came dressed in black to mourn, others displayed their patriotism by wearing red, white and blue clothes. One man, an inmate escorted by Meridian police, attended the service wearing his green-and-white striped prison uniform.
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith, visibly shaken, told the crowd that the gathering was a time to grieve and mourn. He asked the congregation to pray for the nation's "strength and restoration of hope."
Flag greets people
People entered the church beneath a large U.S. flag that was draped between ladders extending from two city fire trucks. Meridian firefighters hoisted the flag in tribute to fallen firefighters in New York City.
After the final prayer, some people knelt on the altar in a moment of silence.
Allie Fae Turner of Meridian said she was at the service to pray for her family in New York. She said she considers the recent terrorist attacks to be personal.
Turner said her sister and brother-in-law live in Long Island. She said he was driving a bus into New York City when the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center.
People search for answers
The Rev. Terrence Roberts, pastor of New Wine Community Ministries, said he has found it difficult to offer words of wisdom and comfort to people who are grieving.
Roberts said people need to talk about how they feel.
Upon leaving the church, guests signed a book that will be sent to residents in New York City, an effort to convey love and support from Meridian.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at