The Advisory Council of The Guibord Center
Planning Finding Hope in the Holy
Gwynne Guibord planning Finding Hope in the Holy
Advisors Betty Cooney and Bishop Mary Ann Swenson planning Finding Hope in the Holy
Rajshree Patel, Mary Ann Swenson, Alexei Smith planning Finding Hope in the Holy
Filmmaker Jennifer Jessum, Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord
Rajshree Patel and Mary Kirchen, CFO of The Guibord Center

Planning for Finding Hope in the Holy

How do you create an event with integrity that represents the great diversity of spiritual traditions in and around Los Angeles? If you are Dr. Gwynne Guibord, you begin by calling on many of the religious and spiritual leaders on The Advisory Council of the Guibord Center, and on individuals representing specific organizations involved with ecumenical or interfaith work in and around Los Angeles.

You invite them as The Planning Committee to come and prayerfully begin brainstorming together.

Last Spring more than two dozen such people showed up and the process began…

Step 1: The Parameters

There will be many celebrations around the area to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. Dr. Guibord is clear from the very beginning that THIS will not be a political event.

No flags.

No speeches.

The Guibord Center functions on a different level where the Holy shines to heal and inspire. Actions follow from it.

The various faith leaders gathered around the long tables nod their heads in agreement.

Dr. Guibord articulates the second requirement of her vision: it must affirm that those killed on that horrible day and in the long years since came from all walks of life, and called out to the Holy in many languages, using many names.

The ceremony must affirm the common humanity echoed in that broad spectrum of loss.

“Yes!” many respond quickly.

Dr. Guibord has many ideas but before offering them she turns to the others gathered here and asks for their thoughts.

Step 2: The Planning

Now the discussions begin.

Many people voice wanting ample opportunity to recognize the sanctity of our grief as human beings, something respectful, something simple – but powerful.

A conversation arises about the many different ways that religious traditions view death.

There are surprises. Concerns are spoken about being respectful.

People listen thoughtfully. Ideas flow.

What about Hope? This cannot be too heavy.

What have we learned in the last ten years that makes things better? A lot!

How do we find a way to express the hope? This event has to be hopeful. Many agree. Again ideas flow.

Finally, Dr. Guibord summarizes the ideas and then begins to sketch out her frame-work for the program, weaving in many of them:

A reading of our sacred texts.

Water to represent our tears.

A chanted lamentation.


The water becomes a font of wisdom. Saplings of hope. Eight ten-year-old children raised in families of faith symbolic of the future. Inviting everyone’s participation in naming the ones they love who are being remembered. Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.

The vision takes form. People turn to one another. They are excited. They suggest a number of committees to wrestle with all that needs to get done.

The work begins in earnest.