The First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale held a special service on Sunday, September 3, to honor the Carbondale police and fire departments and all emergency first responders.

This date also coincided with a National Day of Prayer called for by President Trump in order to join people together as a nation to pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our national response and recovery services in the wake of the natural disaster wrought by the hurricane.

The service opened with an entrance procession by the Knights Templar of Palestine Commandery #14 bearing the colors.

After Pastor Wayne Wolfe welcomed the congregation, emergency services personnel, and visitors to the church, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the choir led those gathered in singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The national anthem was followed by the national hymn, “God of Ages, Whose Mighty Hand.” In keeping with the patriotic tone of the service, church organist and choir director Wendy Mol chose a selection of patriotic hymns for the service.

During his sermon, Pastor Wolfe expressed gratitude to all members of the community who serve others, especially firefighters, police, and other first responders.

He emphasized “the need for good, believing, brave people to support us in works of compassion, brotherhood, and service,” and recalled the sacrifice of the emergency workers who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.

Pastor Wolfe’s stirring and inspirational sermon also asked worshippers to consider the state of freedom itself. He challenged the congregation to recognize the dual nature of freedom, the freedom to “do something” and the freedom “from something.”

Explaining that “freedom from” often leads to chaos, Pastor Wolfe exhorted his listeners to reclaim the freedoms written into documents by the Founding Fathers, reminding everyone that “freedom should have goals, higher aspirations, and lofty aims.”

As a token of the church’s appreciation for the service of the fire department, a certificate was presented to the members in attendance at the service. As no members of the police department were present, Pastor Wolfe stated his intent to ensure that they received the certificate prepared for them as well.

A certificate was also presented to the Knights Templar to express gratitude for their service to the church.

After the well-attended service, the deacons of the church invited those gathered to partake of refreshments and fellowship at a Coffee Hour in the back of the sanctuary.