A church located two blocks from New York City’s ground zero, which was planted in Manhattan shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., will be part of the live webcast memorial services led by Orange County, Calif., megachurch pastor Rick Warren.
The services will be at least partially broadcast from Lower Manhattan Community Church, one of Saddleback’s “daughter churches,” on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
The full details of the "Hope & Freedom" services have not been disclosed and are still being formulated, said a Saddleback Church spokesperson. Lower Manhattan Community Church is led by Ryan Holladay, the son of Saddleback Church’s associate pastor Tom Holladay.
Warren made it obvious to his congregation during weekend services that the decision by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's to exclude any prayers from clergy at ground zero in the upcoming 10th anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 attacks did not sit well with him.
Bloomberg recently stated, "Everybody would like to participate, and the bottom line is everybody cannot participate. There isn't room. There isn't time. And in some cases, it's just not appropriate."
Warren described the 9/11 terrorist attack as an event that changed the world and led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with many lives lost.
“This week the mayor of New York City announced that at the 10th anniversary memorial service at ground zero that there are going to be no prayers,” Warren said in church, accompanied by a smattering of boos. “Now, you know what I think about that. So, we are going to have our own nationwide, national prayer day,” he said to applause.
Warren said that Saddleback sent two of the church’s pastors to New York City to start two churches “in order to take care of the spiritual needs of a very confused and broken city.” Lower Manhattan Community Church was originally called Mosaic.
“On 9/11 weekend we are going to link up with our daughter church in New York City. Ryan is going to help me with this service where he is going to broadcast from ground zero,” Warren continued during his announcement to the church. “We’re going to have some testimonies out of our church in New York City of people who were there on 9/11.”
Warren added that the weekend services will also be “an enormous opportunity for us to honor the people who have kept our nation free.”
“This will be a nationwide coast-to-coast linkup to have prayer. Of all the times, America needs prayer,” Warren said and then rhetorically asked, “Do you think it needs prayer right now?”
Holladay told The Christian Post that Lower Manhattan Community Church commemorates 9/11 on the first Sunday in September every year, but there is more emphasis on the ceremony this year because of the 10th anniversary.
“We want to give people an opportunity to process the anniversary from a spiritual perspective,” Holladay said. “It wasn't just a national or civic tragedy, it was a spiritual tragedy, and we want to support people as they work through it. 9/11 left a spiritual vacuum behind for many people. We want to fill that vacuum with God's love.”