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April 17. 2013 10:37PM

Religious leaders call for unity and compassion in wake of bombing

New Hampshire religious leaders this week urge their congregations to remember God's peace, healing and justice are profoundly more powerful than any terrorist bombs as they prayed for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families.

"People have been talking about how easy it is for one act of evil to do so much harm, and is there anything we can do to fight it," said Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett of Temple Beth Abraham, a conservative congregation in Nashua.

"We have to believe that the power of our goodness is stronger than even that and . not become so distracted or demoralized that we would lose an opportunity to show goodness or love," Spira-Savett said Wednesday.

Citing Psalms 3, the Rev. Dr. Paul R. Berube of Grace Fellowship Church in Nashua reminded his congregation "to not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me."

Rather, Berube encouraged his congregation during a special prayer meeting Tuesday night to turn to God as their shield against violence and fear.

"There is a need for peace," Berube added. "In the midst of whatever turmoil or storm that we face, (know) that God is a good God, and that he is there to comfort us in our sorrow. He is there to comfort us in our trials and afflictions. And here is there to bring peace to us when things around us are anything but peaceful," the senior pastor of the Christian evangelical church said.

In the "wilderness" and "wasteland of our violence, confusion, anger and grief," Episcopal Bishop Rob Hirschfeld said people again need to know "the presence that is stronger than sin, hatred, death."

"In the emptiness of hearts that are tempted to become numb to such suffering, we need lanes for God's compassion to open up again," Hirschfeld said in a prayer he posted on the Episcopal Diocese's of New Hampshire's website Tuesday.

"Even in the hot panic on the streets, we behold your glory when people rushed to the aid of your hurting children, with acts of compassion, wisdom, skill," he added.

The Rev. Joseph Cooper, pastor of St. Kathryn Catholic Parish in Hudson, prayed for the victims and their families at Mass Tuesday, but cautioned people against descending into retribution and vindication in their desire for justice.

"Violence begetting violence does not solve any problems," Cooper said.

Rabbi Beth Davidson of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester wrote in an e-mail, "it is crucial that we pull together, as a community and a country, to celebrate the meaning of patriotism by not giving in to terror."

"We have to sanctify every day, every moment, every action we take - even and perhaps especially the common place and every day. We are holy when we do God's work here on earth," she wrote.



kmarchocki@unionleader.com

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