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Honoring first responders

At the Blue Sunday service, from left, first row, Wayne Kelley, Glenn Kelley, Louis English, Zack Stewart, Ron Peebles; second row, Mayor Jim Staff, Daniel Love, Steve Morris, Josh Dorriety, Austin Snyder, Jake Lambert, Glenn Carlee; third row, James Beasley, Sterling Smith, John Stallworth, Cody Nall; fourth row, Rev. H. Michael Hill, Deacon Ann Johnson, Bishop The Rt. Reverend J. Russell Kendrick, Lay Eucharistic Minister Steven Reynolds.

For the 11th year, the congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church held a Blue Sunday service to remember those who perished September 11, 2001, in the attack on America. This year’s service, Sunday, September 10, was held jointly by Trinity and St. Anna’s Episcopal Church at Poarch.

The RT Rev. J. Russell Kendrick, Bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, officiated.

“We are here today to remember so we don’t forget,” he said. “We are honoring those servants we call first responders … While everyone experiences sacrifices and risks in life, first responders have chosen a vocation in which sacrifices and risks are present so much more … You don’t ask questions. You go. You go in order to save lives … We are here to remember you and thank you and your families too.”

Bishop Kendrick said he went to the 09/11 Memorial and museum in New York last year, and he was totally unprepared for what he saw and heard and smelled.

“Nine-eleven woke the world up to a reality of evil,” he said. “It also woke us up to a reality of heroes. It is your nature to save. It is also God’s nature to save … God is a first responder. God sent His Son to save us. The message from Heaven is ‘Peace be with you. It’s the essence of our faith. We respond to God’s mercy by extending mercy. We are to be about mercy and forgiveness because of what God did for us. Nothing can separate us from the peace of God’s love.”

In his closing prayer, the Bishop prayed for those recovering from Hurricane Harvey and those “in the path of Hurricane Irma even now.” He prayed for peace that passes all understanding now and in the days ahead.

Attending were

City of Atmore – Mayor Jim Staff

Atmore Fire Department – Chief Ron Peebles, Glenn Kelley, Wayne Kelley, Louis English, Zack Stewart, Jake Lambert, Daniel Love, Austin Snyder

Atmore Police Department – Lt. John Stallworth, Steve Morris, Josh Dorriety, James Beasley, Cody Nall

Poarch Fire/Rescue – Sterling Smith

Atmore Ambulance – Donnie Brown, Zachary Blackwell (They had to leave during the service to respond to a call and are not included in the group picture.)

Retired Director of Public Safety Glenn Carlee also attended.

Bishop Kendrick was joined by Deacon Ann Johnson from St. Mary’s in Milton, and the Rev. H. Michael Hill, from Pensacola, who sometimes fills the pulpit at St. Anna’s.

Following the service, everyone enjoyed lunch in the parish hall.