Bells and service will mark fourth anniversary of 9-11

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    n Area church prepares to welcome those in need of companionship on that day By Lori Price Netcong - Four years ago on a fall Tuesday morning, Pastor Harry De Kolf was working at his office at the Stanhope United Methodist Church as usual. Because his office does not have a radio or a television, DeKolf was unaware of the tragedy taking place less than an hour's drive away at the World Trade Center. "One of the ladies in the Tuesday morning Bible study told me that a plane hit the Trade Tower. My first thought was that it was a small plane and had engine trouble, but soon another parishioner reported that a second plane struck the other tower. I quickly said a prayer for those involved and went about my work. It wasn‘t until I went home for lunch that I learned the full impact of what happened and saw the pictures of the devastation," recalled recently DeKolf. For several weeks following the disaster, De Kolf kept the sanctuary's doors open for those in need of spiritual guidance or simply a quiet place to sit and reflect. For weeks, the pastor spoke to people who were concerned about the future of loved ones in the armed forces, consoled those who were in search of answers, prayed with many trying to maintain their faith in God in the midst of such devastation, and welcomed yet others who until that day had not fit worshiping into their weekly schedule. "I spoke to one man who worked in one of the towers. He is married and the father of young children. I could hear the fear in his voice as he talked about what was an all too slow walk down the stairs from the 25th floor that day. He talked about not knowing what to expect when he arrived in the lobby and of the total darkness that existed," said De Kolf. On the first anniversary of 9-11 De Kolf held a service at 7 a.m. believing that some folks may have wanted to strengthen their souls for the day ahead. "I also rang the church bells at the precise times the planes struck. I couldn't help but think about all the lives that were forever changed in such a short time." De Kolf did the same on the second anniversary, however no services were held on the third anniversary. This year, with 9-11 falling on a Sunday, De Kolf is planning a special service to be held outdoors on the church lawn. "We will start gathering at around 8:30, ringing our church bells at 8:46 and 9:08, the times the planes struck. Our worship will begin at approximately 9:30 with a special service of remembrance and healing," said De Kolf extending an invitation to area residents. "Our services of worship, as always, are open to all who wish to join us." The Stanhope United Methodist Church is located on Route 183 in Netcong. For more information contact the church office at 973-347-0247.