To make sense of things, many folks turn to religion for answers. A tragedy like Sept. 11 was no different, and local clergy were there then and now to help congregants, with a message for Sept. 11.
The congregations of Toms River had much to say over the impact of the national tragedy on their houses of worship.
Reverend Tory Pruner of the reflected back ten years earlier, when a number of clergies came together for an interfaith service.
“It was amazing to see New York City pull together in that moment,” said Pruner.
In the same way, their local community pulled together in that tragic moment. Toms River clergy hosted memorial services together for the weekend following that Tuesday morning.
“We were all reeling,” said Pruner. Many turned to a higher being for support.
Pruner conveyed that immediately for several years, there was an increase in church attendance, but since then has dwindled.
For the Presbyterian Church, they have not forgotten and they plan to set aside time in their worship service for “a participatory service” in memory.
Pruner said she's seen the message of Sept. 11 come out in many ways. For example a Presbyterian Church of Toms River member, Michael Barozzie, wrote a song in memory of those lost and to those who must continue with the loss, called “You Will Not Be Forgotten.”
Reverend Pruner emphasized that the past 10 years have been an “ongoing effort to bring peace and change. We remember the tragic event and those who have to take it on daily.”
Senior Pastor Bruce Quigley of also wanted to give the community and his congregation an opportunity to remember and honor the day.
“It happens to be on a Sunday, but it gives us an opportunity and obligation,” said Quigley. The three worship services will emphasize the memories of those lost.
Quigley remembered how his church responded ten years ago.
“That evening we had a special service; a loose service. It was a time of allowing people to express their anger, misery over unknown lost members; there were a lot of emotions," Quigley said. "We had an open discussion about how they should be feeling or how they shouldn’t be feeling.”
Ten years later, with the drop in church attendance, the senior pastor knows exactly what he is going to say Sunday morning.
Just as the tragedy changed their mindsets and their hearts’ cry, they should not be turning their backs on the God who supported them through their time of need.
“What was different back then? What is different in their lives? How is it different?” asked Quigley.
Pastor Tim Shorey of remembered what he spoke about 10 years ago.
“A foundation in God: When your foundation is solid, then when a storm comes you will be unshakable,” said Shorey.
He remembered a small increase in church attendance, but overall their congregation remained even keeled.
Various other houses of worship in Toms River will be memorializing the national event, all uniting to separately provide a sanctuary for those in need of prayer, mediation, and mourning and to memorialize those lost on a Tuesday morning ten years ago.