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College Park Parish Honors First Responders, a Tradition Halted by COVID

Sep 12, 2022

COLLEGE PARK, GA – Like Episcopal parishes across the nation, St. John’s Episcopal in College Park on Sunday resumed a longstanding tradition that had been suspended by COVID; their Tri-Cities First Responders Service and Picnic.

The Rev. Tim Black said he was glad the restart could be on September 11, twenty-one years after the terrorist attack on America, and even more for the day’s appointed lectionary readings.

“Sometimes things just fall into place,” Black said in his sermon. “It was also our good fortune that it was a Good Shepherd Sunday.”

In his sermon, Black said “The shepherd protects,” referencing the responsibilities of first responders and shepherds.

“On 9/11 so many of our countrymen went up inside of those buildings with a good idea they might not come out without considering the cost, without stopping for a second to wonder if they were going to make it out or not because they were called to put themselves between the danger that was present on that day and the people in there,” Black said. “This is the type of shepherding we see every day when a fire truck or an EMT truck goes blasting past us as we pull over or as a police car speeds down the road to get to a call.”

Among the first responders attending the service were police officers, firefighters, and Emergency Medical personnel from College Park and East Point.

College Park Police Lieutenant Bruce Braxton, a member of St. John’s, wore his uniform as he read the prayers of the people.

Black asked all first responders to come forward to receive a blessing which was followed by spontaneous applause from the congregation.

One reminder of the constant vigilance required of first responders was displayed by firefighters and EMTs who sat in the back rows of the nave – ready to scramble out if they received a call.

Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright, who was a priest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on 9/11, marked the day by posting this prayer from The Episcopal Diocese of New York.

O Almighty God, who brings good out of evil and turns even the wrath of your children towards your promised peace: Hear our prayers this day as we remember those of many nations and differing faiths whose lives were cut short by the fierce flames of anger and hatred. Hasten the time when the menace of war shall be removed. Cleanse both us and those perceived to be our enemies of all hatred and distrust. Pour out the spirit of peace on all the rulers of our world that we may be brought through strife to the lasting peace of the kingdom of your Son; Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Learn more about St. John’s Episcopal in College Park.

Don Plummer is the beat reporter for The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. If you have story ideas, please reach out to Don.

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