At the time of the September 11 attacks, the Rev. David Peters was a youth minister at a Pennsylvania church. The Marine veteran, who became an Army chaplain during the Afghanistan war, will be delivering the winning sermon he entered in the inaugural ‘Reconciliation Preaching Prize’ competition.
Peters will deliver the original sermon on the anniversary of Sept. 11 at St. Paul’s Chapel near ground zero.
“The Little Chapel That Stood” is directly across from the World Trade Center, but was unscathed when the attacks brought down the twin towers. It became a “sanctuary of consolation after the terrorist attacks,” a place of rest and renewal for volunteers and responders. Today it’s become a sort of makeshift shrine where tourists flock to see Sept. 11-related artifacts that are on display, including memorial banners from around the world.
Rev. Peters of Austin, Texas, said he entered the national contest because he realized how 9/11 has shaped his life. After that day, “the world changed for us,” the 39-year-old said in his sermon titled “Learning War and Reconciliation.”
“It’s astounding how difficult reconciliation can be,” Peters wrote. “Just like the Marine Corps didn’t just teach me to do war, they taught me to be war, we have to learn to be reconciliation,” he added.
The contest, which is open to people of all faiths, required all entries to address texts from Isaiah and Matthew, according to Military.com. The inaugural competition was launched by the Parish of Trinity Church, which includes St. Paul’s Chapel.
Trinity’s rector, the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer said: “In his powerful first-hand testimony, David preaches the message that reconciliation is learned and has to be practiced. It is our hope that his words will comfort those struggling with contemporary events and that they will foster understanding beyond the walls of our sanctuary and remembrance of 9/11.”
The full text of Peters’ sermon will be available after it is delivered, and will also be webcast live at: trinitywallstreet.org.
Peters is now working toward a master’s degree in religion at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin and is an assistant parish priest at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Texas.