After the shock, anger and then thoughts of revenge, people were visibly turning to their faith in an attempt to reconcile the unprecedented events of the past week.
Malibu joined the nation as churches, synagogues, temples and mosques throughout the country organized special interfaith services, enabling people to unite in a way not seen in decades.
Councilmembers Sharon Barovsky and Ken Kearsley greeted churchgoers who came to attend a noon prayer service at Our Lady of Malibu on Friday afternoon. The chapel was packed with more than 300 people who took time off from work, school and other daily routines to come and pray on this national day of prayer and remembrance.
The resounding words of “America the Beautiful” echoed throughout the chapel, each sentence sung with pride.
Malibu Mayor Joan House began the prayer service, saying, “An unbelievable catastrophe occurred that forever will change our view of the world. Our hearts are heavy and we are numb.”
In an effort to unite faiths as well as people, Our Lady of Malibu invited leaders of all faiths to speak at the service. OLM parish manager Marla Bouten said the church also invited a representative of the Muslim faith from a nearby Los Angeles mosque, but he was unavailable at the time.
“Let us pray for an appropriate, just response, and for those who suffered this loss,” said the Rev. Bill Kearze, as he encouraged the congregation to dedicate themselves towards justice, not revenge.
“It’s important that we remember the people who died, their families and friends,” said Kearze. “That we remember those who are involved with the efforts of rescue. But it’s also important that we remember ourselves as we, too, grieve.
“Let’s remember that this planet is intended by God to be a garden, not a wasteland.”
“Let light shine out of the darkness,” said a Malibu Presbyterian representative. “We were struck down, but we are not struck out.”
Rabbi Judith HaLevy quoted Psalm of David 27, a psalm read throughout the month of Elul, prior to the Jewish High Holy Days, which takes place this month. It asks for courage, hope, peace and protection.
The religious leaders encouraged Malibu residents to donate blood and money, or to assist in any way they can in the days to come. Also present were Monsignor John Sheridan and the Rev. Michael Doherty; Malibu Presbyterian representatives: Reverends Greg Hughes and Karen Greshel; Malibu Vineyard pastor Bob Wolff, Malibu Methodist pastor Larry Peacock; and Susan Klein from St. Aidan’s, the Malibu Episcopal church. Patty Mehring was also present, representing the Malibu Christian Science Church.