On the altar of St. John United Methodist Church in Aiken on Sunday, there will be a Bible, a globe and a U.S. flag.
The Bible is a symbol of guidance and strength. The globe speaks to the global consequences of the day 10 years ago when terrorists attacked U.S. soil. The flag is a tribute to the men and women at the Pentagon.
The altar also will include a stethoscope, to honor medical personnel who provided care on Sept. 11, and pilot headphones, to memorialize those aboard American Airlines flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines flights 93 and 175.
There will be a teddy bear, too, for all the children who lost parents and grandparents. Next to it, a wedding ring will symbolize all the marriages that ended too soon.
They are mere symbols, but they’re powerful nonetheless, said Catherine Stapleton Nance, the director of music ministries at the church.
“Our main purpose with these services is to remember and to acknowledge that 10 years have passed,” she said. “There are 10-year-olds in our midst who don’t remember that day.”
Music on Sunday will center around the theme, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” as a reminder that faith in Jesus Christ can help transcend even great tragedies.
“We want to remember and renew hope,” Stapleton Nance said. “We want to remember that God has brought us through the past 10 years.”
St. John’s is just one of many churches in the area that has planned special services on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.
The South Aiken Church of God has invited more than 500 police officers, firefighters and paramedics to a worship service and awards ceremony at the church, said Calvin Leach, chairman of the congregation’s veterans group.
“Before the last 10 years, there was no recognition for these individuals,” Leach said. “We want to say thank you. They’re vital to our community. They’re there for us even when we don’t realize it.”
At Mosaic United Methodist Church in Evans, the Columbia County Ballet will present two dances on freedom during Sunday morning’s service.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Carolyn Moore, will preach on the theme “Live Your Hope.” The sermon includes a challenge to go out and do some meaningful thing that breeds hope, be it picking up trash along the road or spending time with your kids.
At First Baptist Church of Augusta, a memorial concert features the choirs of First Baptist, Aldersgate Methodist Church, Resurrection Lutheran Church and Wesley United Methodist Church along with the First Baptist Church Orchestra.
Throughout the day, First Baptist Church will be open for prayer, much like it was 10 years ago. After news of the attacks spread the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, people began to assemble at the church, said Rodger Murchison, associate pastor of First Baptist.
“People came to pray, to cry, to talk. We’re going to do it again 10 years later, because people still need to pray and cry and talk,” he said. “When you face a tragedy, you often struggle with a loss of hope. We want to rekindle that hope.”
The church will provide prayer guides during the vigil, which runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The guides include suggestions to pray for the country, the president, elected officials, the military, churches and those in mourning.
“As people of faith, we believe our hope is in the Lord,” Murchison said. “We can also look to one another. There are so many stories of courage and bravery and decency following 9/11. That’s what we remember.”