As one year ended and another began, we asked a few members of
Newport-Mesa's faith community to talk about their thoughts on the past
and their hopes for the year to come. Here's what they had to say:
"I hope more people will take the time and make it a priority to learn
how each of us is responsible for creating peace or making trouble in our
own lives, and thus in the world. This is very difficult, because we are
bombarded by distractions and escapes. At the Zen Center we recommend
daily meditation and other awareness practices throughout the day."
-- The Rev. Deborah Barrett
Director, Zen Center of Orange County
"The horrific tragedy of Sept. 11 brought much suffering and pain to
thousands of families, pain that will continue for years. We have all
felt this pain. One of the great mysteries of life is how God can turn
evil into good. My hope for the new year is that God will continue to do
this, not only in New York and Washington, D.C., but in the lives of
"Already we have seen good come out of this tragedy. We have seen the
rebirth of patriotism unlike anything in my lifetime. Americans have
rediscovered the value of their country and their neighbors. They are
also rediscovering God. I read one interview about a New York City woman
who since Sept. 11 has begun attending church for the first time. She
said, 'I had never had a need for God, but somehow Starbucks and yoga
does not cut it anymore.'
"People are looking for answers, for hope. One of our sister churches
in New York City added 1,000 people to their congregation following the
tragedy. My hope for our community and for Redeemer Presbyterian Church
is that the events of Sept. 11 will continue to drive home to us the
reality of our vulnerability in this world, our dependence on the creator
and our desperate need for him. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can
supply the meaning, the purpose and the peace we all seek. Ultimately, as
tragedy points out, faith in the sovereign God is the only thing that
makes sense of life in an often-chaotic world.
"My hope for the new year is a revival of Christianity in our
community, the kind of revival where lives are transformed, where people
experience true freedom from fear and taste the wonder of a relationship
with God. We as a community would then discover that when lives are
changed, the community is changed for the better as well. This is the
true meaning of peace on Earth and it is my hope for the new year."
-- Jim Belcher
Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church
"Years come and go. We look backward as well as forward. We reminisce
about the good old days and dream of many unfulfilled hopes. The past is
oftentimes bittersweet or sad. But the future, we hope, will be different
-- filled with joy, peace, comfort, success and pleasures. The past will
diminish and subside in strength. Sad times are not felt as forcefully as
[they were] at the moment when they happened. The future shines with the
brightest glow, making all things exciting and glorious."
-- Father Moushegh Tashjian
St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church
"The year 2001 has left a lasting impression on every American. The
tragedy of Sept. 11 will remain with us as a testament of tribulations,
fears and hopes. Muslims, not only in America, but also across the world,
were devastated by the senseless and inhuman acts done to the innocent.
"With every tragedy comes hope. The aftermath of the attacks has
brought communities, religious faiths and ordinary people to inquire
about each other, to understand each other and to build relations with
one another. The Muslim community in Orange County was overwhelmed with
support and love. [People] reached out to us and we reached out to them
because that is what American values and principles [call us to] do; they
[call us to] take care of one another. We met many wonderful people
within our community.
"The saddest part about it is that it took a tragedy [for us] to get
to know our neighbors. It is our hope that in the year 2002 [we] will be
able to unite and strengthen our nation as a people who can see beyond
the color, race or religion of its people to form a nation that stands as
a model of humanity.
"May peace, love, and understanding fill us all."
-- Fatma Saleh
Author of "A New Perspective: Women in Islam," Islamic Educational
Center of Orange County
"This [past] year has been a very intriguing year for all of us. The
tragic events of the final months of 2001 will certainly classify the
year in works of history to come. Although the year will be remembered
for these events, their aftermath crystallized the kindness and the
brotherhood that we so yearn for.
"The outpour of love, compassion, kindness and benevolence that came
to the fore is, perhaps, the underlining theme that modern history should
focus on. Society has found a deeper meaning in life and its potential in
the value of family and friends and in the importance of friendship and
"Let us join together and resolve that the new year will allow us each
to continue to deepen our appreciation of one another and, together, to
transform the world into a better place for ourselves and the generations
to come -- one mitzvah, one act of goodness and kindness, at a time."
-- Rabbi Reuben Mintz
Chabad Jewish Center of Newport Beach