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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 3, 2003

Hawai'i finds solace in faith messages

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 •  Tragedy scars small Texas town
 •  Could crew have been saved? NASA seeks answers
 •  Grief jars soul of Florida town
 •  President's words offer comfort to nation
 •  Bush to attend service at Houston space center
 •  Investigator in USS Cole blast will lead shuttle probe
 •  NASA lauded for straightforward reaction
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 •  Anti-nuclear group says crash bolsters position

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i paused yesterday to mourn the loss of the crew of shuttle Columbia.

Football fans who attended the NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium yesterday observed a moment of silence for Columbia's astronauts.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

In churches and temples statewide, pastors and priests reached out to offer reassurances of faith and ask for prayers for the families and friends of the victims.

The new death in the national family had painful echoes for a state built on 'ohana that lost one of its own, astronaut Ellison Onizuka, in the explosion of the Challenger 17 years ago.

It struck close to home for members of Central Union Church, where one young family who knew shuttle commander Rick Husband sought solace and counseling.

"They were not in church this morning, but they called to talk about it," said the Rev. Dr. Edward "Ted" Robinson, senior minister at Central Union. "They were shocked by what had happened."

The rest of us are suffering from the same sort of shock, even if the loss is not as immediate, Robinson said, urging people to acknowledge their feelings and talk through them, "and not push it away as old news."

"It's the first topic of conversation for most of us," he said, and it comes in the midst of painful deliberations about the possibility of war against Iraq, and against a background of terrorism in which America is a prime target. "All of a sudden, bang, into the midst of it comes the Columbia tragedy, and it raises difficult issues for our nation to face."

Robinson urged his congregation to seek strength and peace of mind from God through prayer.

Later, Senior Associate Minister George Scott asked his congregation at the church's contemporary worship service to reflect on the lives of courageous astronauts lost "in a terrible, terrible explosion," and to hold them and their families "close to our hearts during our worship today."

Across O'ahu at Windward Unity Church, the tragedy loomed over the normal jollity of the upbeat services in Kailua.

Guest speaker Jerry Jampolsky, a psychiatrist and author, said people should use newspapers, radio and television to keep themselves informed about what happened, but he warned them not to "overdose on the news."

"It's difficult to resist the chatter of fear that is in our minds about the space shuttle," Jampolsky said. "There's a real temptation to keep watching the news with the idea that it is somehow going to give us some kind of control. ... All it does is create more fear and more anxiety."

Buddhist priest Jan Youth of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission on Pali Highway said the temple will hold a public memorial service for the Columbia crew and their families at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10.

"We realize the need for the service is not for the crew, but the service is necessary for us, in dealing with our grief.

"For Buddhists, any time these events occur, there is a sense of coming to realize how precious and how fragile life is."