ASSIST NEWS SERVICE
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October 15, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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GLAD TIDINGS TABERNACLE BRINGS COMFORT TO NEW YORKERS IN THE WAKE OF TERRORIST ATTACKS ON SEPTEMBER 11
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (ANS) -- Responding immediately to the disaster of September 11th, over twenty chaplains from seven states made their way to Manhattan to reach out to New Yorkers. They flew, rode trains and drove to join the dedicated congregation at Glad Tidings Tabernacle on West 33rd Street in their efforts to comfort people wherever they found them. They went out onto the streets, rode the ferry, ministered to relief workers in Staten Island where they rested briefly and - ultimately - headed in with them to Ground Zero.
Under the leadership of Pastor Carl Keyes, the Glad Tidings congregation pitched in early on in the relief effort. Founded in 1907, this church of 300 dedicated members called the Red Cross, city shelters, fire departments and other churches to offer its support in any way it could. This offer to serve led church member Leah Taylor to Staten Island with truckloads of supplies for the Naval Home Port -- where firefighters, army and national guard personnel, and other workers got a few hours of sleep and a hot meal before they returned for shift after shift at ground Zero. During one of her trips, Leah witnessed a press conference and heard a call for chaplains to comfort relief workers.
When Leah returned to the church, she found three of the ministers who had come across the country to help. Senior Pastor Ryan Wright from Community Church in Santa Clara, Senior Pastor Jim Uhey of First Assembly in San Jose, and Director Ray Giunta from "We Care" Ministries in Sacramento left for New York on September 17th. They began their mission on an early morning flight -- comforting tense fellow passengers on the plane from California.
With Leah's help, Pastors Wright and Giunta continued their work as chaplains at the Naval Home Port where they slept, ate and prayed with relief workers who toiled at Ground Zero. They used the two ears and one mouth that God gave them to "listen twice as much as they talked" -- encouraging relief workers to tell their stories as a way to begin the grieving and healing process. Ryan and Ray also paved the way for others to follow as the partnership provided by Glad Tidings Tabernacle for chaplain service has grown and includes not only the Navel Home Port, but Ground Zero, and also the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The college administration asked the chaplains to make grief and debriefing sessions available to its 17,000 students and 2000 faculty members.
Meanwhile back at the Glad Tidings, Pastor Uhey set up a central support operation to assist other pastors and volunteers. He trained people from around the country to reach out and touch those affected by the disaster, listen to them with compassion, and to continue to help in any way for as long as it takes. He urged the volunteers to heed the guidelines of Francis of Assisi and preach the Gospel at all times -- and when necessary, use words.
More pastors came to provide their support. Inspired by an "AmericaPrays" broadcast that featured the relief efforts of the small but effective Glad Tidings congregation, Youth Pastor Jason Ross left Conway Chapel in Conway, Arkansas to see what he could do to help. Coming out of Penn Station, he walked across the street, dropped his bags in front of the church, and began unloading a truck full of donated supplies at 12:30 a.m. on September 19th. Later on in the week, he traveled throughout the city -- praying,"planting seeds" and bringing the message of God's love to melt the anger and bitterness some people experienced at their loss in the chaos.
Senior Pastor Bob Appleby arrived with other pastors and members from Cornerstone Church in Clinton, Connecticut after seeing the "America Prays" telecast, as well. A week after the actual disaster, he and his group began by delivering water and supplies to grateful firefighters, police and other relief workers. He returned for a second week to serve as chaplain at the periphery and, then, inside Ground Zero. All the while, he helped those around him focus -- not down on the destruction around their feet, but up to Jesus for goodness, light and hope for the future.
In just a short time, these pastors and many others provided needed care for relief workers -- as well as others throughout the city. Pastor Giunta asked for his eyes to be "anointed" to see what was needed each night. This quote from Revelation led him to talk with a woman sitting next to him on a ferry who was so overcome by the disaster that she had developed a plan -- to take her own life and that of her daughter. During the next several hours, he helped this woman to form a new plan -- one based on the hope of God's promises -- that could truly save her from the chaos around her.
The chaplains encouraged burly firefighters to share their grief and their love with their families -- especially their sons. They prayed and offered a vision of hope to some who felt overwhelmed by sadness or anger. They hugged and shared tears when words were not enough. But mostly, they just listened. And, they continue to listen as these days stretch on. Their quiet comfort and care help New Yorkers focus on the task of recovery for now -- setting their eyes "not on the perishable, but on the imperishable." These chaplains convey the message of hope to rebuild -- and a City on a hill in a brighter time ahead.
Glad Tidings Tabernacle is a 300-member, Assemblies of God church, founded in 1907. The church is under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Carl D. Keyes, Senior Pastor; Reverend Donna Keyes, Associate Pastor; Chris Rowton, Music Pastor. The relief effort operates under Urban Life Ministries, the church's outreach service to the New York City community.
GLAD TIDINGS TABERNACLE: HANDS ACROSS AMERICA
Following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, crisis relief agencies sprang into action providing emergency assistance amidst the chaos. Along with their efforts came an outpouring of volunteers with a desire to help in any way possible. Unfortunately, most people were turned away due to the overwhelming response. But one New York City church made it possible for hundreds of church volunteers all across America to get involved. Glad Tidings Tabernacle, a small midtown Manhattan church, is a gateway that allows many people to come to New York and work with the church's effort to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support during this time of crisis.
Glad Tiding Tabernacle and its community outreach service, Urban Life Ministries, assists with the relief effort by providing emergency supplies, food and clothes to displaced families and relief workers. They also provide chaplain support to those working at Ground Zero and to students and faculty at Borough of Manhattan Community College. The ministry offers grief and crisis support by trained professionals and extends prayer and spiritual help to the people on the streets of New York City. A large majority of this work is handled by local and national volunteers.
Revered Carl D. Keyes, Senior Pastor at Glad Tidings Tabernacle said, "After the attack, as a church, we could not sit and do nothing. And once we got involved, we realized the work was so great, we couldn't do it alone." After being interviewed during a live satellite program titled "America Prays" that reached millions, the church was swamped with phone calls from people wanting to come to New York to help. Not only did Glad Tidings receive volunteer assistance, but the financial support from churches across America has been tremendous.
To date, the church has hosted over 200 volunteers from 15 states. The volunteers come from many walks of life. "They come with an open heart ready to do what ever is needed, states Jason Urbanski, Volunteer Coordinator for Glad Tidings Tabernacle.
Leah Taylor, a member of the church and one of its first volunteers, is a law student at Brooklyn Law School. She stood at the Brooklyn Promenade on the East River, watching the devastation firsthand. She prayed, "Lord, let me be of help." Since then, she's initiated many of the church's volunteer opportunities from coordinating supplies for fire houses and barracks to providing chaplains at Ground Zero and colleges. One beneficiary of her work is Ronnie Davis. Ronnie is the Administrator at the Naval Home Port, a place where firefighters eat, sleep and rest in between their shifts at Ground Zero. Ronnie calls Leah and the people from Glad Tidings her "angels." "Leah would come to me and say, what do you need today? I'd give her a list of supplies or food and she would deliver it every time." Leah has since taken a leave of absence from law school to work full-time with the church's relief efforts.
Kevin Meldrum drove to Glad Tidings with three men from Grace Christian, a church in Warren, Michigan. They arrived in pick up trucks and stayed for a week. "We didn't know how we could help. All we had to offer was our transportation." Since many of the local New York volunteers do not have cars and rely on the public transit system, the trucks were invaluable. With their efforts the church was able to transport many of their donated items to the relief stations and warehouses.
Joe Martin of Baton Rouge, LA was woken up at 10:30 PM on September 14th by his pastor. Joe was told that a team was being assembled and was leaving for New York in 3 hours -- could he come? Joe turned to his wife who told him, "You should go. This is a chance of a lifetime to make a difference in the world." The team of five volunteers, including Joe, came ready to work as chaplains, but they instead were used primarily as organizational strategist. Joe, who is a college president, noticed, "Initially, Glad Tidings had a many of the volunteers doing many of the same things with others not knowing what to do." With Pastor Keye' blessing, the Louisiana team went to work on structuring the volunteers' efforts. Their work lead to a more efficient operation. Glad Tidings now fondly refers to the firemen as "The A Team."
Other volunteers included three pastors from California trained in grief and crisis counseling. They barely had time to put down their bags when the church sent them out to work as chaplains with the firefighters and relief workers after an urgent call came in asking for help. At first the workers kept to themselves, but a simple introduction of "how are how you coping" open the doors for the workers to share their grief, frustrations and fears. The firefighters talked about spiritual issues such as feeling abandoned by God and many of their concerns centered around their families. Pastor Ryan Wright, one of the chaplains, remembers telling a firefighter it was okay to cry in front of his family. "The firefighter told me that every night when he came home from the site he wanted to hug his family, but couldn't because it would make him cry." Pastor Ryan explained to the man that not only was it okay to cry in front of his son and wife, but they needed to see him grieve. A wave of relief washed over the firefighter.
A bus filled with a church youth group from El Paso, Texas made the 2000-mile trip to Glad Tidings to offer their help. The teens worked with Glad Tidings' street ministry. They were able to walk the streets of New York City to pray, offering encouraging words and to pass out Bibles to the people. One teen named Javier remembers, "I thought New Yorkers would be hard and tough, but they were so open to prayer. I couldn't believe it."
Glad Tidings Tabernacle continues to expand its efforts to help meet the needs of individuals, families, and communities of New York City as they strive to heal from the wounds caused by the World Trade Center disaster. Those churches interested in sending volunteers should call Glad Tidings Tabernacle at (212) 563-4437 or send a fax to (212) 563-9548. Glad Tidings is located at 325 W. 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001.
Urban Life Ministries, an outreach service of Glad Tidings Tabernacle, may be contacted at: 325 W.33rd Street, New York, NY 10001; Tel:(212) 563-4437; Fax:(212) 563-9548
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