Calvary Chapel Pastors Plan 9/11 Memorial Service

Calvary Chapel Pastors Plan 9/11 Memorial Service
Calvary Chapel Pastors Plan 9/11 Memorial Service

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Calvary Chapel Pastors Plan 9/11 Memorial Service

Story by Margot Bass

Never Forget. On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered terror attacks on its own soil, leaving a trail of fear, doubt, confusion, and anger for so many before they felt glimmers of hope. Now, 20 years later, Calvary Chapel pastors are planning a memorial service to ensure that the day, its victims, and the brave first responders are not forgotten.

One of those pastors, Senior Pastor Pancho Juarez of The Ark Montebello, CA, will never forget the early days following the attacks in New York City. Pancho had arrived in New York a week after two planes hit the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. That day’s events led to thousands of deaths and a city devastated by overwhelming rubble and emotional pain. Rescue attempts had turned into recovery operations. He related, “I was there to listen to the recovery workers, at the places where they ate and congregated. Everybody was thinking about the future, their families, valuing their lives and their country. You could hear in the voices of the men and women the desperation, the horrific psychological terror they were feeling.”

Eventually, they spoke about spiritual matters, Pancho continued. “That’s when I would come in. We were told not to ‘force religion’ on them—what Pastor Lloyd Pulley [of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ] called ‘patient evangelism.’ We didn’t have to be brash, a John the Baptist. They were already traumatized. So we fed and refreshed them; we were there to just ‘be there.’”

9/11 photo of rubble

Senior Pastor Skip Heitzig (left) of Calvary Church Albuquerque, NM, is overcome by the magnitude of the strike against innocent civilians. Photo by Mike Finizio.

Carlos Aviles Jr., now senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Claremont, FL, was then a detective for the New York Police Department (NYPD) and local head of the ministry Cops for Christ. “I was told to come down to the mayor’s office to work with his chief of staff and the Office of Emergency Management, [placed] in charge of all the spiritual issues at Ground Zero. So, essentially, I was the first detective of the NYPD to get paid to preach the Gospel,” he recollected. He became the catalyst and bridge between the city and other Calvary Chapel pastors who rushed in to help.

As he was active then, Carlos is now key to planning the memorial event. “I want the first responders to know, though it’s been 20 years, that God has not forgotten or left them. Every broken heart, every tear that fell, God has never left them.” He shared Hebrews 13:5b, For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Memorial Details

The 9/11 Memorial Service is free and will be held in New York City on Saturday, September 11, at the Salvation Army building at 221 E. 52nd Street, in midtown Manhattan—beginning at 9:30 a.m. There is capacity for 300 people indoors and another 100 in the patio garden. Pancho explained, “This event is not affiliated with any federal, state, or city agency. This is an “FUBU” event—For Us, By Us. We want to remember and honor the victims and their grieving families, and also to recognize the heroic feats displayed by many responding NYPD officers and firefighters, some of whom have succumbed to an early cancer death due to their exposure at Ground Zero.” Pastor Eddie Pinero of Calvary Chapel Milford, PA, is also involved in the planning.

Carlos added, “We are expecting police officers, firefighters, Port Authority officers, and others who were at Ground Zero. Also, we are keeping this event neutral with no government involvement, so that God can get the glory, not man.” The memorial will feature a mini museum with artifacts from Ground Zero, video/audio of events occurring at the World Trade Center, moments of silence, testimonies of officers, and the NYPD presentation of colors. Arrangements are being made for personal group visits to the 9/11 Museum and Ground Zero. Food will be provided.

9/11 photo of rubble

Rescue workers search through the maze of debris for survivors. Photo by Tom Price.

This event is significant, Pancho emphasized. “We cannot forget what happened on that day. My heart for this is just to reminisce, to hang around other witnesses. It’s very powerful when you speak to other people who were there.” He compared the importance of remembering 9/11 to when Moses exhorted the Israelites as God was about to lead them out of Egypt: … “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place” (Exodus 13:3a). “I think of when God said to remember the Passover. Here we are, in 2021, and still the Jewish community commemorates the Passover. Never forget.”

Carlos concluded, “The reason it’s so important to remember 9/11 is because it reveals man’s heart, that the heart is wicked. We are living in evil times, and we need a place of rest that we can only find in Jesus.”

To register for the 9/11 Memorial, email or call 323-724-8464. For more information, email Carlos at


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.