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Book features 'Prayers from Ground Zero'

12/19/2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

NOTE: A photo of the Rev. James McGraw will be available

NEW YORK (UMNS) - "May we live each day according to the Good News of the Gospel rather than the bad news of the moment."

So reads part of a prayer for the sixth Sunday after Sept. 11, a prayer recited in a small, historic United Methodist church just a few blocks from the site where the World Trade Center once stood.

Prayers offered by the Rev. James McGraw, pastor of John Street United Methodist Church, in the weeks following the terrorist attacks have been collected into a paperback volume, Prayers from Ground Zero. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and former editor of Renewal Magazine, McGraw has served at John Street since 1992.

The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries is publisher of the book, with assistance from the United Methodist City Society in New York, whose executive director, the Rev. Calvin Pressley, helped organize the publication effort.

The prayer book, chronicling the 10 Sundays following Sept. 11, was formally introduced during the Dec. 19 "Wonderful Wall Street Wednesday" service. Worshippers received copies of the book, compliments of the City Society. The weekly noontime service, which regularly draws several hundred nearby workers, is co-sponsored by the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church.

While the prayers often focus on the pain in the aftermath of tragedy and call on the sustaining faith in God, they also touch upon the conflict created by the wartime measures imposed. "We are a nation and a people, O God, confused, conflicted, angry, anguished and fearful, open to the expression of our best human instincts, yet dangerously on the brink of venting our worst."

In the last prayer, on Nov. 18, McGraw points to the comfort derived from the connectional nature of the United Methodist Church. "Expressions of sympathy, empathy and prayerful solidarity have come to New York City churches from all over the nation and the world - crayoned drawings and messages laying bare the hearts of little children, cards signed by Sunday school classes, youth groups and congregational members, and banners bearing both the signatures and symbols of those whose sharing and shouldering of ground zero grief is so genuine, generous, comforting and reassuring…"

Copies of Prayers from Ground Zero, priced at $10 each, can be ordered from Literature Sales, Board of Global Ministries, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 1358, New York, NY 10115. Checks should be made payable to GBGM-UMC. For more information, call (212) 870-3761 or send a fax to (212) 870-3940.

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