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Cuero church program honors veterans, families

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
May 6, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.
Updated May 8, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.

Susie Albert speaks to the children of First United Methodist Church during a Sunday service.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

For more information on starting the program contact Susie or Charles Albert at 361-676-3028.

CUERO - The sanctuary is silent.

Heads are bowed as ranks, names, and hometowns of service men and women are read aloud at First United Methodist Church in Cuero on Sunday mornings.

No one in the congregation knows the people or even the families of any name read by church members from tiny strips of paper.

Some days there are three, some days more than 10, but each receive an honor and reverence.

"It's not just a church thing," said Susie Albert, who helped begin the program called In God's Hands. "It's just something we felt like we could do in our church to remember these people."

In God's Hands is a simple patriotic program formed to recognize and honor human life.

"Regardless of which side whether you're for or against the war," said the Rev. Debby Lake, pastor of the church. "To recognize these people who are giving their lives and there are hurting families, to me is a real, real important part of worship."

Charles Albert, Susie's husband, began the program after seeing a storm of media coverage over the death of Michael Jackson yet none given to decorated war heroes or veterans who died.

"I said we need to do something to recognize the ones who have given their lives," Charles said

The Alberts began to search for a way to honor veterans and their families. They contacted the Red Cross, patriotic groups and even the Pentagon, but because of privacy policies there was no logical way to send cards or communicate with grieving families.

The Alberts finally decided on something simple - they would give it all to God.

Once a week members of the church will log onto a Department of Defense website, copy the names of those who have been killed in action that week and read them all aloud the next morning.

"They go over there and fight for us here," Charles said. "And to make sure that they're not forgotten we just ask for God to bless them and the families that have lost... The greatest gift you could give is dying for your country.dying for what you believe in, dying to keep us safe."

Although Lake said the Bible doesn't speak directly about patriotism, those who are a part of the program believe their faith and their spirituality are of equal importance.

"We believe firmly in God and our country," said David Calliham, who helps with the program every week. "I fly my American flag everyday and we support 100 percent of our troops."

The Alberts hope the program will eventually spread across the nation. Already they know of at least 13 other churches in different that do the program.

The Alberts, who believe they owe their religious freedom to service men and women, believe it's the least they can do.

"They passed away where we can live free," Charles said. "What other little deal could you do? That's just the minimum we could do - is to pray for their families and pray for them."

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