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Giving Thanks at Quecreek

Aired August 4, 2002 - 18:30   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're just about a half hour from our CNN special report, GIVING THANKS AT QUECREEK.

And you are looking at a live picture of the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania where the service will be held. It will recognize the heroic and safe rescue of nine miners one week ago today. Our special begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Now, of course, to help us with our coverage we're joined by the Rev. John Beyers of the Grace United Methodist Church, right here in Atlanta. The Rev. Beyers is well known in the city because his message is broadcasted on ROCK radio, 99 F, here.

REV. JOHN BEYERS, GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Indeed, I'm delighted to be here with you Carol.

LIN: And it's great to have you here.

BEYERS: It's a day of celebration.

LIN: It certainly is, and I'm really looking forward to the service because so many different facets of the selections of the Psalms and the songs, really tell the story of what happened that night.

But, you had the chance to actually talk to one of the miner's ministers?

BEYERS: That's right.

LIN: Who ministered to the family during that time and just about what ceremony and the service is going to be like today. What are hearing?

BEYERS: Well, the Reverend Charles Olson is my colleague and we chatted on the phone today. And he is filled enormous gratitude for the tremendous work that has been done in that community and for how people's lives have dramatically changed. I could sense the tears in his voice as he was sharing with me on the phone today. He's actually been on vacation and is on his way back to Somerset for the service tonight.

LIN: Do you know where they got the idea to have the service? It's multi-denominational, the different families and their ministers participating.

BEYERS: This community, and South Central Pennsylvania, has really been a part of this whole rescue effort. And churches and people from churches have given such enormous support that, they, as a community wanted to come together and give thanks to God for the tremendous things that have happened.

LIN: And this church in particular played a huge role in that rescue operation.

BEYERS: You know, I'm told it's just 100 yards from the rescue site itself. How appropriate to have the service there at Christ Casebeer Church.

LIN: And we don't have the history on the name, it's such an interesting name.

BEYERS: It is indeed.

LIN: Christ Casebeer Church, 100 years old. We understand no air conditioning inside, so it is the hardy -- the hardy and the faithful who will be turning out tonight.

BEYERS: I'm told it only seats 400 and they have satellite locations all over the city to accommodate people, so they can come and express their gratitude to God for the tremendous miracle there in Somerset.

LIN: We will have more of a chance to talk about some of the selections, but I'm wondering, your thoughts on Psalm 23? One of the first selections.

BEYERS: That's just a favorite of so many of us, both from the Jewish and the Christian heritage. Because it speaks of a personal God, who walks with us in the most difficult moments of life. That his presence is there to guard us and protect us. I think going to be the perfect way to begin this service.

LIN: Could you share some of the verses from Psalm 23, that we'll be hearing?

BEYERS: The Lord is my Shepard I shall not want he maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake.

And then this is the part that is so meaningful to me.

Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me, they rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, my cup runneth over. Surely, good and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

LIN: And goodness and mercy for all 77 hours that those nine men were underground waiting to be rescued.

BEYERS: Indeed.

LIN: Thank you very much. Dr. Beyers you're going to be with us throughout our special coverage. So, stay tuned. Sit tight. We're going to get through a couple of other stories here to basically set the stage.

BEYERS: Thank you, Carol.

LIN: Well, among the participants in this evening's service will be the Reverend Dennis Doebler of Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church, where the service is taking place, and the Reverend Barry Rittenour of Bethany, St. John United Methodist Church. Earlier they talked with us about what this experience has meant for the community.


REV. DENNIS DOEBLER, CHRIST CASEBEER LUTHERAN: This is a service of prayer, praise and thanksgiving. And it's going -- the message, in my mind, is prayer to God that he is present with us through out time, not only from the rescue, but now from the time of healing that comes afterwards.

Praise to God that he was with us and with the servants of this community who helped rescue the miners. And thanksgiving for giving thanks for all he's done for the community.

REV. BARRY RITTENOUR, BETHANY, ST. JOHN U.M.C: We've had mine accidents in the past and they all have been tragic. So we were due to have -- you know there were too many positives that were happening that day for it to be a negative outcome.

I believe they're heroes. If they hadn't done what they did, we'd be talking about 18 dead miners, and not nine alive, and nine that got out ahead of them.

DOEBLER: They never felt that they were alone. They always felt, as you may have heard already, there was a tenth man down in that mine with them. Of course, they're referring to Christ Jesus our Lord. It was a miracle because, a miracle as we often think of, as we read in the Bible happened 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. But a miracle is where God can take something that is bad and make it into something good. And being something good, we give credit and acclamation to God because it is through his hand that he uses servants like ourselves and the other workers to make this bad situation in the mine turn out to be a good happy ending.

RITTENOUR: Sometimes I wonder if maybe God was testing us to see if in fact when we got into a major situation would we be true to our faith and we were. I'm very proud of the community that I serve and the people that came out in just droves. We actually had to turn them away because we had too many.

DOEBLER: Now, this event of the miners trapped in the mine has brought us even closer because it's right in our very backyard. And because of that, we, in this community, have had really the first-hand experience of being a part of that rescue team.

RITTENOUR: I think it has strengthened their faith. What we find is, we find people who have always believed and they've always prayed, but all of a sudden now they see the fruit of a group of people praying together. A miracle has happened.

DOEBLER: They're getting back to normal. Although, as far as talking about this situation, they're going to talk about it weeks and months ahead, and as time goes on, I believe more stories will probably come out as to how it affected the miners themselves and their families, and us as community members.

RITTENOUR: Our goal is for us to praise God for his mighty miracle. That was the goal all along when we decided to do this. We wanted the opportunity for the miners to offer their thanks, as well as the rest of us. Because we were all praying, as our opportunity to thank God for what he did.


LIN: Well, during the service two of the miners are expected to light candle on a table where 10 mining helmets have been set up. There are 10 helmets, one for each of the miners, and one for their God.

So, let's recap now how the whole harrowing story of the Quecreek Mine rescue unfolded. CNN's Bruce Burkhardt recounts that remarkable week.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seem like just more horrible news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trapped in a flooded mine in southwestern Pennsylvania this morning. A team specializing in deep mining...

BURKHARDT: Nine miners using what turned out to be inaccurate maps accidentally break through a wall into a neighboring mine. The breach releases 50 million gallons of water into the working shaft.

RANDALL FOGEL, RESCUE MINER: By the time we could get out, now this is talking 3,000 feet, from were we can get faced to where we can go to make the turn to get out, to head out of our mine. By the time we got to the point, to the bottom of our section, which we had to walk. And you're talking in five feet high to four feet high, it's a little bit less.

By the time we got to the bottom it was already too full where we couldn't get out. The water had beat us to the bottom. And it just filled up to the roof at that point and then we couldn't go any further.

BURKHARDT: The trapped men crawl into a small chamber while also warning, via radio, another crew nearby. That crew manages to escape. Above ground rescuers could only wonder and hope. No radio contact, they drill an air hole into the mine. The air is heated to help the miners fight off hypothermia.

THOMAS FOY, RESCUED MINER: Once they started drilling, I mean, that meant a lot. When they said, we got the air, I mean the air, that's what we needed more than anything because we wouldn't have to worry about the water, but the air, we were going to run out of oxygen before we ran out of anything.

BURKHARDT: Meanwhile, above ground, signs of hope.

GOV. MARK SCHWEIKER, PENNSYLVANIA: We did hear tapping. That was tremendously encouraging for all involved.

BURKHARDT: By late morning, however, the tapping had stopped. And for the first time the possibility looms that there maybe no survivors. That evening a large drill begins boring into the ground to make a rescue shaft, an expected 18-hour process.

But at 1:00 a.m. Friday morning, another kick in the gut when the drill bit breaks off while attempting to bore through dense rock.

DAVID HESS, PA. EPA SECRETARY: This is a very tricky operation. You have lots of people cooperating on this effort. And a lot can go wrong.

BURKHARDT: At 10:30 a.m., drilling begins on a second rescue shaft while workers try to retrieve the broken bit from the first hole. They succeed and by Friday night drilling is resumed in the first shaft.

All day Saturday, families, fellow miners, in fact, all of us wondered if it was still possible. It had been more than two days since any tapping -- any sign of life had been detected. Then, at last, the drill bit broke through into the tiny chamber. A phone was lowered down the shaft. Would anybody answer?

SCHWIEKER: That all nine are alive. And we believe that all nine are in pretty good shape. And the families now know that.


BURKHARDT: It has been dubbed the miner miracle, but in fact, it seems major. At 2:45, early Sunday morning, the last miner had been pulled safely from the earth. In a world where there's been such bad news, the first sight of those nine men rising out of the ground wasn't only an answer to prayer for the families, to the rest of us it was the sun finally poking through the clouds.

Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.


LIN: Well, it is hard to imagine the conditions the nine miners had to endure for all those 77 hours. Coming up, our Jeff Flock gives us an up-close look at the Pennsylvania mine similar to Quecreek. And with all nine men safely rescued the site has now become a tourist attraction. We'll hear from some of the people who went for a visit, next. Stay right there.


LIN: Earlier today, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, dozens of people came out to look at the site where the nine miners were pulled to safety last week. Young and old, many with cameras, and some from as far away as Florida, they came to see for themselves where the miracle at Quecreek mine had happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since 9/11 I think people got real compassionate for their fellow Americans. And that's the way we should be, not just because of 9/11, all the time. So, I think they stuck together and they were all -- had faith in getting these guys out and that was great.

Because we don't have that today, anymore. We lost a lot of that. But I think 911 unfortunately brought that back. And that's what we need. And they were volunteers. A lot of people were volunteers who did this stuff. They don't worry about getting paid, or whatever, they did it because it was their fellow man. That's what we need more of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came all the way from Florida. And we can't believe this. We saw it on TV last Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted to take them up here, and it's really something.


LIN: Not far away, an area firefighter was selling commemorative bumper stickers, with a miner's helmet, with the inscription: "9 for 9." The cost? $5 each, a portion of the proceeds goes to a fund to help the miners.

There's a fund set up to help with AmeriServe (ph) and the bank in Sykesville (ph) Fire Company. And I make -- we do $5 a ticket, and $2 of the contribution goes to the miners. And just recently we got $278 in the last three days.

Well, working inside a mine is dark, damp and cramped work. CNN's Jeff Flock went inside an abandoned coal mine with a retired miner to see what it's like underground, when things are not going wrong.


JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting some extraordinary access today, beneath the Pennsylvania surface. Perhaps you see these are stalactites that you perhaps see forming here on the roof of this mine, this abandoned mine. It used to be called, what? The Chess Creek No. 1, Jake? JAKE MILLER, RETIRED MINER: Yes.

FLOCK: Yes. Now it is called the Seldom Seen Mine. It is a place where you can come and get a tour.


FLOCK: You take folks through this now. You've been, Jake, 38 years in the mines?

MILLER: I've got 38 years in the coal mines. I retired about 10 years ago, now I'm over here giving tours in this mine, here.

FLOCK: Gotcha. And this is an abandoned mine and if we walk through it here, this is one not unlike the Saxton (ph) mine, which is the one that was, of course, filled with water that caused all the problems for the nine miners at Quecreek, correct?


FLOCK: And where are we walking, right now, this looks like a main area, but it's been torn up?

MILLER: Yes, right here, this is the old track entry in this mine. They had track laid up in there.

FLOCK: We can see the old ties.

MILLER: Yes, the old ties, there. They took the track out to resalvage it. But this will go back over there, probably, oh, about a mile. And then it goes down a hill and its flooded out over in that side over there.

FLOCK: And you have floods in there, too. So, it's if someone was to mistakenly hit this mine they'd have the same problem.

MILLER: Yes, if they were on the other side of the hill and mining close to this mine, over there, and they cut into the water over there. They would have a lot of water coming into their mines.

FLOCK: Got you. Now, the other thing that is interesting for us to do down here is to get some sense of where those nine miners were. Now we've asked you to show us an area where -- that might approximate the space that they're in. And this is really is pretty much it. And you know, if we go back in here, and Jake, maybe we can show folks how tight it is. And you can see from your men down there as well. It's pretty tight.

MILLER: Yes, this area is about 20 feet wide, here, and four feet high. This is like the entries you get (ph) that work in the coal mines, the active mines today. And they just take the height of the coal seam there, they don't take no more than the coal because they don't want that rock and stuff outside.

FLOCK: A lot of people don't understand how the coal is mined, but there's a seam of coal here, correct? MILLER: Yes.

FLOCK: And we still see coal, right up along here. We could mine this out if we wanted.

MILLER: Yes, there's still coal in this stump here. This is what they call block a coal, or a stump of coal. This block might be 75-foot square, 100-foot square. It just depends on what they want to leave.

FLOCK: This is basically holding the roof up.

MILLER: Yes, this holds the roof up, while you're advancing into the mines. OK, whenever you get in as far back as you want to go, you come back out. You take these stumps of coal on your way back out and the roof falls down. That's just --

FLOCK: That's so it won't be a cave in problem.

MILLER: No, that's not a problem, that just the cycle of mining because you're taking all the coal out, and this is a planned cave.

FLOCK: A planned cave in as opposed to one that

MILLER: It's just the cycle of mining.

FLOCK: That just happens. Exactly.

And then, lastly, before we get away, and John maybe finish up with the shot out that way, again, showing how tight this is. If you have to get out of here with water coming at you, not easy.

MILLER: Yes, you can see, Glen and Walt up there, they're pretty well hunched over. But if you've got water coming behind you, you can run pretty fast.

FLOCK: I hear you. Apparently nine miners did. Jake Miller, appreciate the access. Thank you.

Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting from 500 feet beneath the earth here at the Seldom Seen Mine in Pattan (ph), Pennsylvania.


LIN: That's amazing. Well, the dramatic rescue of the miners sounds like it came straight from the movies. The Walt Disney Company must have thought so, too. Coming up, we'll tell you the details as the miners go Hollywood. But first, some words on the miner rescue from President Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You saw the great spirit of America recently in Pennsylvania. And the miners were trapped, people prayed for their -- for their deliverance. Americans spent hours trying to figure out how best to save those miners. Came up with a plan. Successfully got each and every one of them out. I want to thank God for the prayers of the American people, for helping them. And thank God for their saving.


LIN: The folks at Disney believe the dramatic rescue of the nine Pennsylvania miners is the stuff that movies are made of. The miners have sold Disney the rights to their story. The harsh reality of spending 77 hours in a wet dark hole 240 feet inside the earth will be turned into a TV movie and a book. An attorney for the miners told me that their biggest concern is how their story is told.

Well, the miners are reportedly making $150,000 each on the deal.

Well, the images of the miners' ordeal captured the hope and the imagination of America. As the nation held its collective breath to see if they would be pulled from the flooded shaft alive. Now, a look back at the dramatic moments leading to their safe rescue.



LIN: Welcome back to our special coverage GIVING THANKS AT QUECREEK. We are going to be joining the celebration up at Somerset, Pennsylvania where the community will be giving thanks for the successful rescue of the nine miners last week. You are looking a live picture now of the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

And joining me, here, in Atlanta, is the Reverend John Beyers, he's the senior minister of Grace United Methodist Church, in Atlanta. He's joining us in the studio because of -- well for many reasons. You've got a real insight into some of the selections that they're going to be talking about and sharing with us at the service. And you've had a chance also to talk to one of the miner's ministers. Who really gave you a sense of what the community is feeling and think today.

BEYERS: He really did, and he's talking about people that really believe in the providential care of God. And as I looked over the outline for the service tonight so much of what's being said, and sung, and spoken about is God's goodness and faithfulness to us, whether it's happy times or not-so-happy times. And when our backs are pushed up against the wall we all hope that someone is there for us. And these miners have found that God is faithful and true. And He's been there for them. And we celebrate that.

LIN: We are celebrating that. Let's take another look at the live picture, there as the service is getting ready and getting underway. So many people turning out in a hot church, with no air conditioning, a church that's more than 100 years old. In a service that has been carefully constructed here.

BEYERS: It looks very much like it has been carefully constructed and people are gathering gosh, I have air conditioning problems in my church right now. So, I see these people fanning and I understand what they're going through. It looks like the choir is rehearsing and preparing for the service to begin. And I understand that all the music and all the scripture lessons that will be presented tonight speak of God's faithfulness and God's goodness.

LIN: One of the firs hymns to be sung is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", sung by the congregation.

BEYERS: And it's a wonderful hymn that speaks to us morning and evening, good times and bad times, God's presence is there for us. It's a wonderful way to begin the service.

LIN: Why do you think they decided to hold this service a week after the rescue operations?

BEYERS: I really think this whole community got involved in this rescue effort and they feel so profoundly moved. I mean, I couldn't speak when the governor announced that all nine were found, and found alive. And I think there's -- within the human spirit an enormous sense of gratitude for God's goodness and a desire to say thank you, a desire to gather together, a desire to share with one another that their lives have been touched by a miracle of God.

LIN: And so much symbolism here. There are going to be 10 hard hats presented on the table, symbolizing the nine miners and their God, the tenth hat being God, and a lighting of the candles, which I believe two of the miners might be participating in today's service.

BEYERS: That's right. And the tin hat idea is a wonderful allusion to the Old Testament book of Daniel when Daniel was in the lion's den and there was the presence of a fourth person there. and I think that that's a wonderful allusion that they were not alone. 240 feet down, 55 degree water, no matter where we are, God's with us.

LIN: We can hear some of the choir, practicing now. We were talking earlier about Psalm 23, the Lord is My Shepherd.

BEYERS: What a wonderful song.

LIN: Something to be shared at the very beginning, and something that is to remind us truly that even in our greatest times of anxiety, that God has a plan, God has a presence?

BEYERS: It's a powerful psalm. And in my tradition, we rise to repeat the Apostle's Creed every week. "I believe in God the Father, Almighty." But I found in Psalm 23 a personal affirmation of faith. It speaks of God in first person terms. It speaks in very intimate terms.

LIN: That's right, it's very personal, isn't it?

BEYERS: Indeed, and it talks about time when things are good, but it also talks about times when things are -- moments when life is bad. But through it all, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. And I think it's a wonderful word of assurance to all of us, all goodwill people of faith. This psalm speaks to us powerfully. LIN: Can you imagine how sorely their faith was tested during those 77 hours? There was a time they said that they believed that the rescue was not going to happen, that perhaps they had, you know, the rescuers were looking in another location.

BEYERS: The wrong direction.

LIN: And that there was point where the water was rising, literally up to their noses, when there was the discussion of let's write our final farewells of love to our family. What a test of faith.

BEYERS: It was indeed. And I can't imagine what Blaine Mayhugh must have been thinking. The one day he forgot to kiss his wife, good-bye.

You know, it reminds us that life really is fragile and life's a mystery. Take care of the people closest to you, because we never know when some tragedy is going to strike us. I bet you he's going to kiss his wife every day.

LIN: Every day.

BEYERS: For the rest of his life. And he should.

LIN: No doubt about it.

BEYERS: I was touched by Reverend Olson, as we talked about the children of one of the miners, as they prayed for their dad and began to question if God was there, if God listened, if God cared. You know, I think all of us go through moments like that in life. And this miracle is a testament to the fact that we do have a God who's powerful, a God who cares, and a God who shows his strength in the human family. Those two boys, Lucas and Daniel, they are the children of Mark Popernack, they learned something about faith as their daddy was down in that mine shaft.

LIN: It is remarkable. It looks like they're getting ready, the service about to be underway, as the choir takes a last few moments to prepare for a ceremony taking place at the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania. And Dr. Beyer, you were saying that this church is what, a mere few yards away from the rescue site?

BEYERS: Reverend Olson said it's just 100 yards away. And in many ways, this was a staging site for the rescue efforts there, an interval part of this miracle that took place in Somerset. And as we see this church, it's obviously an old and historic church, traditionally appointed with the paraments and the divided chancel (ph). I hear the organ playing and choir rehearsing. The candles are lighted. And as the clergy come into the church, they will be representing the fact that we entered in God's presence. God was there first. God was already there in that mine. And he was there for the miners that day.

LIN: There's going to be soloist sharing with us the song, "Morning Has Broken," the soloist Danny Connor. BEYERS: Wow, a wonderful secular song written initially, that became in the Christian community. And it speaks of God's creation and recreation. And I can imagine with these guys down in the darkness for 77 hours when they came up, it really was like a brand new day was beginning for them.

LIN: Robert Pugh, one of the miners, said that he couldn't go to sleep after the rescue, that when he was in hospital bed, he was so excited to be free and to be alive that he just wanted to see the sun rise...


LIN: ...and just to have that moment.

BEYERS: I can't imagine what it would be like to be in total darkness like that, dark and dank and cold. They really did descend to the valley of the shadow of death. And they came out. Their lives will be profoundly changed from this moment, don't you think?

LIN: I think so, especially with a deal with Disney for a TV...

BEYERS: Indeed.

LIN: and a book. Let's listen in on the choir, taking us to a quick break. As soon as the service starts, we will bring it to you live. This is CNN.



LIN: Welcome back to our special, "Giving Thanks at Quecreek." You are looking at a live picture of Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania, just 100 yards away from where the dramatic rescue of nine miners took place, just last week. A congregation mixed with the miners and their families and members of the community. And we are guessing at this point that this is Reverend Dennis Doebler, pastor of the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church addressing the congregation. Let's listen in.

DOEBLER: ...outside the coal companies acquiring leadership headed by our governor, governor of Pennsylvania, Mark Schweiker, and aided by various government entities.

To celebrate God's compassion and his service in supporting the families awaiting word of rescue at the Sipesville fire hall and drill site. God's compassion shined not only through pastoral leadership, but through all volunteers who aided families, spiritually, mentally and socially. His service was exemplified through his servants who prepared, served, donated vast sources of food, as well as other supplies to sustain families and rescue workers alike.

To celebrate God's healing hand in preparing hospitals and staff, emergency medical teams, fire, EMT crews, and the like, to administer into any medical procedures required to aid in the healing of the rescue miners. But above all, to celebrate God's family. The people of God, confessing Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior, who brings salvation to all the world. We are his family. And tonight, we offer our prayer, our praise and our thanksgiving to the one God who has revealed himself to us and to our families in the person of father, son and Holy Spirit.

May we be in a spirit of prayer.

Almighty God, most gracious Lord and King, we invoke your presence with us here tonight. It is with gladness we give thanks for all your goodness and for all your love, which has created and sustained us from day to day. We praise you for the gift of your son, Christ Jesus, through whom you have made known your will and your grace. We thank you for the Holy Spirit, the comforter, who's work brings us hope and guidance. Help us to treasure in our hearts your unfailing love. And help us to show our thankfulness tonight by the lives that are wholly given to you to your service. In whose name we pray, Amen.

BEYERS: Great is thy faithfulness.


LIN: Great is thy faithfulness, really certainly a sign and a symbol and a statement of what happened in the miracle at Quecreek last week.

BEYERS: The Bible from Old Testament to New Testament speaks of a God who's ever vigilant and faithful to his people. And we certainly saw that in Quecreek.


LIN: These are some of our favorite pictures taken at the scene. There's a still photo really captures the moment even better than the live coverage and video, just moments frozen in time of victory and celebration.

BEYERS: The incredible expression on people's faces is timeless, isn't it?

LIN: Incredulity that night. And then joy, just absolute sheer joy. It was a moment that night, actually, when they first heard the sounds of the miner's voices. And because they didn't want to tip off the media, they told everybody to shush because they realized that they had all nine miners alive. And they wanted to notify the families before they confirmed it to the media. But you can see in the faces of these rescue workers, it was so hard to contain that moment, the secret that they were holding, until they could notify the families that all was well.

BEYERS: You know, I think that was appropriate because they did what we could certainly never imagine in experiencing that incredible sense of uncertainty. I'm glad the moms and the dads and the wives and the husbands and the kids got to find out first. LIN: They were stationed at an abandoned firehouse about three miles away from the rescue site. And they had a series of couriers going back and forth to make sure that they got the word to the families first. And even as we watch these pictures of that yellow cage capsule going down, down, down, to go pick up their husbands and sons, that they knew the order in which each of those men were going to come up, before we did, so that they could anticipate seeing the faces of their loved ones for the first time in three days.

BEYERS: That was a tremendous moment. It would appear that Disney had gotten in on the project even earlier with the wonderful near miraculous scripting of these men coming up in the depths of the mine.

LIN: You couldn't script it any better. I think just the suspense of it all. Of course, Dr. Beyers, you believe that God has a plan. But it's hard to imagine that this is something that could have planned out.

BEYERS: Well, Psalm 23 is a statement of our belief in a God who does have a plan for us. And after this great hymn, here comes the great Psalm.

DOEBLER: Psalm 23. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. Even though I walk to the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see before you this evening 10 candles, 10 miners' helmets. We're here to illuminate these candles and these lights. These candles represent the nine men, who came out and got the warning. The tenth candle represents the one who guided them out. So as I read the names of the first nine miners to escape, Jim here will light the candles.

So we light a candle for Frank, Dave, Ryan, Wendell, Ron, Barry, Doug, Larry, and Joe. These candles represent the vigilance of the nine who escaped and how they stood vigilant while the other nine were still underground. And now, we will say a prayer for all of you miners. Let us pray.

Most kind and glorious God, you were with these 18 men. The first nine who indeed the warning, you guided out of the mine. And the other nine you stood with, just as their brother, as they were brothers together. And we praise you and we thank you for you being with them through these difficult times. We thank you for your vigilance and your health, for being with Randy, Tom, Dennis, Ron, Blaine, John, Mark, Robert, and John U. We thank you for being with them during their days underground. And we thank you that they're with us here to celebrate in praise and thanksgiving with their family and friends, and all that took part in the rescue. So as these candles and these helmets represent them, they also are here. There is one for you and represents your undying love and care for them during this difficult time. So we cannot praise you. And we cannot ever thank you enough for all that you did for them and all that were involved in this wonderful miracle. And we pray this all in Jesus' most wonderful and glorious name, Amen.


BEYERS: Dr. Elizabeth Kugler-Ross (ph) is a hero of mine, the Swiss born psychiatrist. And in one of her wonderful little illustrations, she said, people are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there's light from within. And I think we saw in these miners the light of God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...peace is seeing a sun rise or a sun set and knowing who to thank. I'm going to read Psalm 103. And as I read that, you'll see that the psalmist knows who to thank. The amazing thing is that's all God wants from us is he wants us to know him. That's why he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. So you have a relationship with us. I'm always surprised at how few people take the time to read the scriptures, particularly New Testament, and find out who he really is, so that we can know him.

So as I read this, I hope that the psalmist, his passion for knowing the Lord, might inspire you. And surely you guys who have been through the whole ordeal in the mine, you might want to know this God who saved your lives.

Psalm 103. And let me remind all who hear that this indeed is the word of God. "Praise the Lord, oh my soul. All my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sings and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our inequities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him, for he knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust. As for people, our days are like the grass. We flourish like a flower of the field. The wind blows over it and it's gone. And this place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord's love is with those who fear him. And his righteousness with their children's children with those who keep this covenant and remember to obey his laws.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven and his kingdom rules overall. Praise the Lord, you as angels. You might mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word . Praise the Lord all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord all his works, everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, oh my soul."

And if there's one thing I think that everyone of us involved in this situation should say, it's praise the Lord.


LIN: Up next, several different readings from the Bible.

BEYERS: Now St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, a passage that speaks of freedom from fear for those adopted by God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A reading from the eighth chapter of Romans. "The spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we ought. But that very spirit intercedes with sighs to deep for words. And God, who searches the hearts, knows what is the mind of the spirit because the spirit intercedes for the saints, according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, in order that he might be the first born within a large family. And those whom he predestined, he also called. And those whom he called, he also justified. And those whom he justified, he also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He, who did not withhold his own son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else. Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised, who was the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the word of the Lord.

BEYERS: That was indeed from Romans chapter 8, but not the citation on the screen. It began with verse 26 and following, a wonderful statement of faith from St. Paul.

LIN: And next, Psalm 46.

BEYERS: 46. The psalms are the Hebrew hymnal and give us melody and rhythm for our faith.

JACK O'MALLEY, REV. CHAPLAIN, PA, AFL-CIO: I first wanted to take this opportunity to thank the mine workers' family. And what a privilege it was for me to come from Pittsburgh on Thursday to be with people of such a positive faith. Very often, a clergy person ministers to the laity, but I tell you on those three or four days, it was you folks ministering to me.

Your attitudes were so positive, your faith was so strong, it bolstered my faith. I want to thank you very much.

It all came home to me when we were at All Saints Parish in Acusto (ph), out in Boswell, when a little youngster came into the service with a little miners cap on, little plastic yellow miners' cap with a red light on. And for me, that was symbolic of life and symbolic of why these men had to come out of those mines to watch their children grow up and to watch their grandchildren.

So I want to thank you very much for that opportunity in those three or four days in a comfortable fire hall floor. I also want you to know that I put on five pounds with the wonderful groceries that were sent from such caring people.

Psalm 46. "In God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble. And therefore, we will not fear. Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though it's waters roar and foam and mountains quake with their surging, there is a river who's streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the most high dwells. And God is within her. She will not fall. God will help her at the break of day. And nations are in uproar. Kingdoms fall and God lifts God's voice and the earth melts.

The Lord almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations God has brought on earth. God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, breaks the bowel, shatters the spear, burns the shields with fire. Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress."

BEYERS: Every day, there is an unparallel power in the community of faith.

LIN: That you get sustenance from your parishioners.

BEYERS: Every day.


BEYERS: Now, the gospel according to St. John.

RITTENOUR: First chapter, starting with verse 1. "In the beginning, the Word already existed. He was with God and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing that exists that he didn't make. Life itself was in him, and as light gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The one who is the true light who gives light to everyone was going to come into the world, but although the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They're reborn. This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan. This rebirth comes from God."

And I'll just add one thing: PMA, PMA (ph).

BEYERS: And that wonderful reading. The Bible says, "and the light shineth in the darkness," and I believe deep down in that coal mine, indeed God's light was shining.

LIN: And now we're going to hear again from soloist Danny Connor, singing, "Oh Lord Hear my Prayer."

BEYERS: I think this is a wonderful service of affirmation, Carol. Drawn from scriptures of Old Testament and New Testament, celebrating the faith of these fine people.

LIN: And as we listen in on Danny Connor singing "Oh Lord Hear my Prayer," we'll take in the moment and then take a quick break, and then we will be right back.




LIN: Back live. In Somerset, Pennsylvania, the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church. We're enjoying soloist Danny Connor, singing not "Oh Lord Hear my Prayer..."

BEYERS: Rather, he's singing "My Tribute to God Be the Glory." Again, a wonderful hymn of affirmation to the goodness of God.

LIN: Do you think God ad-libs as much as the people who are producing today's service?

BEYERS: I think he must. I think he delights when we come into his presence.

LIN: Well, this story has been nothing but a surprise, so why not let one more unfold. Danny Connor.


LIN: That was beautiful.

BEYERS: Now what follows will be prayer of intercession, led by clergy and congregation. The clergy will pray and the congregation will respond, "hear our prayer," to give a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to what is being spoken by the clergy person.

REV. ED EBERSOLE, EVANG LUTHERAN CHURCH: We'd like to raise prayer to God, and we ask you to join us at the end of each prayer petition as you hear the words "Lord in your mercy," please respond, "hear our prayer." Let us pray.

We raise thankful heart to you, oh God. You delivered your children, the 18 miners our of their bondage in the depths of the ground, and you delivered them into the loving arms of their families, their friends and their community. Lord, in your mercy.

CONGREGATION: Hear our prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We raise our thankful hearts to you, oh God. You blessed this community with faithful and dedicated leaders. You provided us with confident decision-makers, where and when they were needed to rescue the miners. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

CONGREGATION: Hear our prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We celebrate your great mercy, oh God. You chose to be present with the trapped miners. You chose to guide the rescue workers at all of the drilling sites. You chose to grant patience to families as they waited for the safe return of loved ones. Lord, in your mercy.

CONGREGATION: Hear our prayer.

BEYERS: Reverend Charles Olson, my colleague and new friend from Grace Church.

REV. CHARLES OLSON, GRACE UNITED METHODIST: We celebrate your great mercy, oh God. Your holy spirit inspired determination and courage in the face of setbacks in the rescue. You granted your workers wisdom in the face of unknown challenges. You granted patience to the rescue workers, who stood diligent and ready. Lord, in your mercy.

CONGREGATION: Hear our prayer.

EBERSOLE: We pray for your continued intervention in the world, oh God. Bring peace where there is violence, inspire justice where there is inequity, deliver hope in hopeless situations and open our hearts to respond where there's poverty and suffering.

Bless our president, George W. Bush, and our governor, Mark Schweiker, and all the leaders of the world who strive for peace and justice. Lord, in your mercy.

CONGREGATION: Hear our prayer.

OLSON: We pray for your continued blessings of the miners, families and rescue workers of the Quecreek mine. Grant us peace as we continue with our lives. Restore us to wholeness as we face the future. Guide us and make straight our path. Oh God, by your holy spirit, filled up our faith each day so we may proclaim your great mercy and love to the world.

Amen. BEYERS: Amen. And next, I believe, we're going to hear the great hymn, "Amazing Grace," written by John Newton, the former slave trader, whose life was changed by the mercy and grace of God.


LIN: Isn't it fun to see the different ministers getting together? These are all different ministers of different faiths, all representing the different families of all of the miners getting together. And they look like they're having a really good.

BEYERS: It thrills me when I see ministers of other denominations working together, claiming what we hold in common rather than focusing on what divides us. And I think this is the picture of the Christian community that I want to portray to the world where we find a common bond because we do believe in the grace and the goodness of God, the potential of the human spirit and value invested in every single person.

This is a wonderful picture of middle America celebrating the best of what it means to be Americans.

LIN: You were mentioning your friend Reverend Olson, who participated in the planning of this and ministered to the Popernack family.

We are about to hear The Lord's Prayer with the congregation.

DOEBLER: ... over 240 feet below the surface. Many people went into action that evening -- pastor and clergy alike and various entities of the help or human resources of the Red Cross, Salvation Army and mental health agents as well as various well drillers that came on board, various food services came on board, our fire departments.

The list goes on and on -- including, of course, the leadership of our governor and agencies under him.

We, as clergy, who have come together to offer our support, our love and our compassion, want to thank you all for you are here as miners, as family, as friends, as servants to this community and servants of God.

It was noted earlier this evening how we can give as pastors our attention to families and to the miners in their time of need to give them strength. But it was you miners that have shown and demonstrated your strength to us indeed as you gathered together in the teamwork to survive and to pray to Almighty God to see you through the shadow of darkness.

It is you who give us faith and a trust relationship in God to be renewed and to our community here in the Somerset area but to the world at large.

And to you may we raise our acclimation of praise to you in offering this service to the rest of the community. BEYERS: Obviously this whole community came together. In the call of need they were there to love and support one another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together let us pray the prayer that our Lord and Savior taught his disciples and has taught us to say when we pray.

Oh, Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.

A few days ago a call came into the church office and it was from a woman from another county within Pennsylvania who wanted to share her concern and her prayers for all of the miners who were rescued from Quecreek.

And in so doing she directed me to Psalm 40 and said how appropriate it was for the event that had taken place.

So the first four verses of Psalm 40 I wish to read and dedicate to our 18 miners.

"I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth -- a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust."

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. In the name of God the father, the son and the holy spirit. Amen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go in peace to serve the Lord.

CONGREGATION: Thanks be to God.

LIN: Somerset, Pennsylvania giving thanks at the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church. We're looking at just some of the congregation there. And mingled in there are the nine miners who were trapped for 77 hours as well as the nine who escaped because of the heroic calls for them to run because the water was rushing in.

This was a great opportunity, as you were saying, to see middle America dealing with a situation that I don't think any of us can comprehend what it would have been like to confront the situation as a community, as a family, as an individual.

And, Dr. Beyers, you may hear this constantly from your congregation but I don't often hear a minister giving thanks to the congregation for ministering to him during a time of crisis. BEYERS: Obviously this is a very tight community and tight church and it's wonderful to see this kind of interplay taking place. And I think this was a wonderfully crafted Christian service of affirmation.

My only concern is I'm sure that there were persons of other faiths right there in that community who also lent their aid. And I'm sure that this whole community is being affirmed tonight for the many who served and loved and prayed and gave of themselves in this time of great need.

LIN: For those of you who are just joining us, I am here with Reverend Dr. John Beyers who is the senior minister of the Grace United Methodist Church here in Atlanta. And he's got a dual role in our community. He not only ministers to his flock but he also happens to be the minister in residence to 99X -- a rock and roll station here in town.

You hear from the secular community in times of crisis. The kind of questions that people come up with -- what do they ask you?

BEYERS: I remember the day that I was on the air on September the 11 and I was receiving phone calls with the staff there at 99X. And the question is always, "How could a good God let such a bad thing happen?"

And the whole question of evil is beyond our comprehension. And what I try to talk about -- instead of praying for clarity or praying for an understanding of particular events is pray for a radical trust in a God who promises, "I know the plans that I have for you," Jeremiah 29, "Plans for good -- plans to prosper you."

And I think it's more than just trying to figure out life -- it's beyond all of us -- it's a mystery. But if we can operate out of a center of spiritual security then every day can be an adventure.

And I think we saw something of that spiritual security in these men who persevered for 77 hours.

LIN: It's such an unsecured world. We have been talking about this happened during a week when people were watching their life savings disappear in a stock market decline, a week of child kidnappings where we saw a five year old girl in Orange County, California mercilessly murdered. We are looking, though, at a wonderful picture of some of the miners there at the front of the church greeting some of the congregants.

We were talking earlier to their attorneys who negotiated a deal with Disney to get each of them $150,000 for their story.

BEYERS: Well, I think it will be a fabulous story to tell -- a story of peril and a story of intrigue and mystery that will be presented to us.

LIN: That's Blaine Mayhugh in the shirt there -- the blue shirt there on the right hand side. And to the left in the green and black striped shirt I think that's Randy Fogel.

Blaine Mayhugh we heard a lot from the day after. He was the one you were talking about who forgotten to kiss his wife that morning.

BEYERS: Blaine, kiss your wife. Stock portfolios will come and go, jobs will come and go but it's those intimate relationships that we have that will last forever.

LIN: And Randy Fogel, married, father of three. Blaine Mayhugh, father of two. These are some of the personal stories about these men and their lives during this time of crisis.

BEYERS: You can only imagine what their wives and children were going through. We were told about Blaine Mayhugh's wife, Missy (ph), as she kept vigilant guard at the site. She wouldn't leave.

LIN: She could have lost her father and her husband.

BEYERS: Indeed. She was going to see him come out dead or alive. And I admire that kind of resilience of the human spirit and obviously her deep love for her husband.

LIN: All right. As we watch the miners greeting some of their friends and families we are going to take a quick break. We've got much more coverage ahead and we're hoping to talk to some of the people at the service live in just a few minutes.


LIN: And we want to take you back to Somerset, Pennsylvania inside the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church. This is a video tape we took just a minute ago while you were in commercial break of all of the miners gathered up in front of the church to have their moment.

BEYERS: What a happy group of men.

LIN: What a happy group. They are going to meet the President of the United States tomorrow.


LIN: In fact, the president is coming to them.

BEYERS: Terrific.

LIN: The are going to be meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the President of the United States is going to be celebrating the spirit of America and greeting all nine miners.

BEYERS: Indeed we've seen it in these nine.

LIN: Certainly the spirit there. You see -- let's see on the far left in the blue striped shirt that's Dennis Hall and then you've got -- John Phillippi is up there, Randy Fogel, Blaine Mayhugh walking across there and Thomas Foy, Blaine Mayhugh's father-in-law.

They got a chance to bond down there ...

BEYERS: Indeed they did.

LIN: ... in that mine.

BEYERS: They said they talked about everything. I bet they did.

LIN: And a warm day indeed in Pennsylvania. It was about -- it was about a 40 minute service in a church with no air conditioning but a good chance for the community to get together.

John Beyers, I've had such a lovely time with you today. I'm wondering if you can leave us here with some final thoughts here tonight.

BEYERS: Well, I think all of us have to question our ultimate purpose in life and we have to decide out of what source are we going to operate. Will it be ourselves? Will it be our own ideas? Or do we believe we are here for a purpose? Do we believe in a greater good? Do we believe our lives really count?

And I believe this service reminds us that life is more than our job, life is more than our accomplishments, life really is about being connected with God who gives us trust and being connected with one another, for it's those relationships that will last for eternity.

LIN: And what a message as we look live in Somerset, Pennsylvania as people are still filled with wonder and joy of what happened a week ago last night.

Thanks so much for joining us for this special hour. CNN PRESENTS is coming up shortly after a check of the top stories. And don't forget our big show at 10:00 tonight.




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