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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Rural Pa. congregations affected by crash, aid in recovery

Despite the horror that surely occurred on Flight 93 before and as it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside, residents in that area and officials are thankful it didn't injure or kill anyone on the ground.

At least two ELCA congregations, both within four miles of the crash site, were affected by the event and aided in the recovery.

St. Mark (Shanksville) and St. Paul (Buckstown) Lutheran churches have members who live in the surrounding countryside. In fact, the plane crashed so close to St. Paul member Barry Hoover's home that it is now uninhabitable.

Members of St. Paul made food and provided drinks for rescue workers Sept. 11-12. Parishioners from both congregations volunteer with the Shanksville Fire Department. As the week wore on, donations were collected in the form of monetary gifts, snacks and coffee, and hand-warmers for state troopers and rescue workers to use on cool evenings.

"It's pretty frightening to have that happen in your own back yard," said Linda Musser, a St. Paul member. "The workers have been overwhelmed with hospitality, but we're country folks and that's just what we do. We help each other."

Robert Way, newly ordained and installed at the two-point parish known as Good Shepherd Cooperative Ministry, made the rounds to members the day of the crash. Weeks later he continues to help them struggle with what happened.

"Our people are experiencing a wide spectrum of emotions in dealing with this," he said. "Some are set on getting back to some sense of normalcy. Others have been dealing with this on their own and just now need to talk to someone. They're asking the same questions other people are asking, such as, ‘Why would God allow this to happen?’"


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