Skip Navigation

Transcript: Historic Church’s Connection to 9/11


Most of us remember where we were when we heard the news about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania plane crash in September, 2001. This UMTV encore from 2002 visits John Street United Methodist Church in Manhattan near Ground Zero exactly one year later. In 250 years, the oldest Methodist congregation in the U.S. has seen its members through many challenges including the Revolutionary War. Following 9/11, the church turned to God to guide them toward peace and understanding.

View full video.


(New York, NY)

“O God our help in ages past…”

John Street United Methodist Church is older than this hymn.

On this remembrance Sunday however this historic congregation is thinking only of recent events.

Pastor Jim McGraw sets that theme by reading “Meet me in the stairwell.”

The Rev. Jim McGraw: “I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor … I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer … I will be in the stairwell of your final moments, for I am God.”

(Singing) “I’ll walk with God …”

John Easterlin sang this same song on the first Sunday after the attack, when John Street United Methodist – four blocks from Ground Zero – still had no electricity.

The terrorists didn’t miss this old church by much, yet members here get a warning to resist the urge for revenge.

The Rev. Jim McGraw: “Raise God’s shofar to your lips, O Christ, and call us again, ‘No war, not even a holy war.’”

Words have often seemed inadequate in the past year … and especially this anniversary week.

The Rev. Jim McGraw: “I think what you don’t do is make it an opportunity for cheap patriotism. You really probe the faith. ‘Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord.’”

…and again that hymn from 1790 about trusting God.

A 236-year-old congregation like John Street United Methodist  can teach us a lot about trust.


Individuals and groups such as confirmation classes can tour John Street United Methodist Church. Call 212-269-0014 for more information. Historic markers out front and a small museum inside the church document the 250-year history of the oldest Methodist congregation in the U.S.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was posted on March 27, 2015.