Prayers and sympathy cross denominational lines

Tribute: Non-Roman Catholics honor the late pope in services.

The World In Mourning -- The Death Of Pope John Paul Ii

April 04, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Just as the pontiff had extended a hand in friendship to members of other faiths, clergy around the region responded by keeping Pope John Paul II and Roman Catholics in their prayers yesterday.

It was a remembrance many religious leaders said would not have occurred 50 years ago and was a tribute to his efforts to build bridges with non-Roman Catholics.

"This pope seemed to reach across denominational boundaries and all kinds of religious traditions and faiths," said the Rev. Daniel Meck, assistant pastor of St. David's Episcopal Church in Baltimore.

"We pray for him because we pray for those who have died," he said. "We pray that he will be in eternal rest in God's perfect kingdom," Meck said.

From their pulpits, they remembered the 84-year-old pontiff, who died Saturday in the Vatican as the world monitored news bulletins about his declining health.

"The way I portrayed the pope is that he stepped over the boundary lines and embraced all religions," said the Rev. Pierre German, pastor of the nondenominational Friendship Victory Vision Ministries in Glen Burnie. "You knew you were loved when he came to your country."

Before Communion yesterday, a smaller Christian denomination noted the grief of a larger one.

"Here we are, Protestants who broke away some 500 years ago or so - we feel their loss and pray for their continued ministry and for their loss," said the Rev. Tom Blair of Baltimore's Second Presbyterian Church.

The Rev. Ernest Smart, pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community in Baltimore and former pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, opened yesterday's nondenominational worship by noting that the outpouring of sympathy to Catholics should remind people of various faiths to work in concert because "in the end, God has no label."

He said he felt "a sense of oneness today, a sensitivity to the sense of grief, the sense of loss to our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters."

A denomination that split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054 said prayers at the close of yesterday's service for a fellow Christian, despite differences.

"It's a prayer asking God to grant the newly departed memory eternal, and then the choir sings a special melody singing that response, `memory eternal,'" said the Rev. John Vass, spiritual leader of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Baltimore.

At Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church in Annapolis, congregants remembered the pope's many roles.

"We prayed on behalf of the denomination to express our compassion and our sympathy on the loss of a great leader, a great humanitarian, a seeker of world peace and a tireless servant of God," said the Rev. Johnny Calhoun, senior pastor.

At the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, the Rev. Jarrett T. Wicklein inserted a prayer for the pope and Roman Catholics everywhere as he began prayers for the sick and the dead.

"We need to pray for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters as they experience a loss," he told worshipers at the Baltimore church.

The pope died after Jews attended Sabbath morning services, at which many Jewish leaders included him in their Saturday prayers for the sick.

With the time difference, his death straddled the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths, said Rabbi Jay R. Goldstein of the Conservative Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills.

"Passing away on the Sabbath is considered to be the ultimate blessing. It is almost as though you pass with God's kiss," he said.

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