Westmont Magazine A Prayer for America
As soon as they learned of the horrific terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, members of the Westmont community responded with prayer. Megan Shrader, the student body president, immediately encouraged faculty, staff and students to gather throughout the day in Kerr Stu-dent Center for a prayer vigil. President Stan Gaede announced that classes would remain in session to give students an opportunity to discuss the events of the day with their professors.
The president also invited everyone to attend a special one-hour prayer service at noon in the gym. Campus Pastor Ben Patterson led the community in a series of prayers and invited individuals to pray as well. Faculty, staff, and students crowded into the gym and united in raising their voices to God. Groups of students also met to pray in the residence halls.
The next evening, six faculty members hosted a round-table discussion on the complicated issues surrounding the attacks. Deborah Dunn, assistant professor of communication studies, encouraged students to respond as thinking Christians.
Two political science professors, Dave Lawrence and Susan Penksa, discussed the reaction of the American media and international consequences of the attacks. Chandra Mallampalli, a new member of the history faculty, warned that seeds of prejudice can take root during such crises.
Lisa DeBoer, assistant professor of art, talked about the power of symbols and the images from Sept. 11 that may endure. Religious studies Professor Jonathan Wilson encouraged the community to find comfort in Scripture, especially the Psalms.
The Westmont College Student Association and Christian Concerns organized a memorial service Thursday evening, Sept. 13, and invited the Santa Barbara community. Afterward, mourners planted a tree near the Potter’s Clay memorial and left roses beneath its branches. The tree represents the suffering that occurs around the world and the hope we have in Christ.
Reflection, prayer and service have continued in the weeks following Sept. 11.
Telford Work, assistant professor of religious studies, led a discussion Oct. 18 about Christian identity in light of the national events.
At the invitation of religious studies Professor Gaston Espinosa, Stephen Cory talked about Islam and Christianity on Oct. 19. A doctoral candidate in Islamic history at UC Santa Barbara, he and his wife, Yvonne, shared what they experienced living in Morocco.
Students had a choice of four different chapel programs Oct. 24 addressing the events of Sept. 11. Professors Mallampalli and Work both provided information about Islam in a session titled “Why Do They Hate Us So Much?” Addressing the second topic, “Middle East and Middle America: What is Being Protected?” were Professors Marilyn McEntyre (English) and Edd Noell (economics and business). Professors Lawrence and Penksa asked “Can Christians Be Too Patriotic?” Philosopher Bob Wennberg and theologian Jonathan Wilson discussed “Just War and Pacifism.”
Students lined up to give blood on two separate occasions and have participated in several fund-raising efforts to benefit the victims of the attacks.