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Front Page » September 11, 2007 » Local News » United by faith: Interdenominational worship service in H...
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United by faith: Interdenominational worship service in Huntington

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The families of the nine stricken miners gather at the Canyon View Junior High for an interfaith memorial service.

An interfaith memorial service was held in honor of those whose lives were lost in the Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster and the rescue attempt on Sept. 9. Hilary Gordon, mayor of Huntington welcomed everyone to the service. She offered a special thanks to those in attendance and the religious leaders who came to participate. "Love unifies all of us," said Gordon.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Utah is a great state and this is sacred land and the junior high is a sacred building as it was the gathering place for the families in the early days of the mine disaster. He described Huntington Canyon as sacred land as well. "There has been pain, discomfort and loss on the part of a lot of good people here. We honor friends and fellow citizens who lost their lives in Crandall Canyon and the subsequent rescue attempt. These were men who loved and were loved by others. Their time was cut short. Our community and our state has been hurting. There is not a single person in this crowd or within reach of a television camera who has not felt anguish and shed a tear over the events at Crandall Canyon. Regardless of religious affiliation or nationality it is time to begin healing. This is a time for healing. This is a time for closure.

"We need to ensure the lives of Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Manuel Sanchez, Dale Black, Brandon Phillips, Gary Jensen, Carlos Payan and Brandon Kimber live on; our lives by extension are made better.

"Mining and coal are a part of our state and will be for generations to come. Never let it be said that in this time of need we didn't rise to the occasion. We respect our neighbors more. We love a little more and may God bring peace to this community. God bless the state of Utah," said Gov. Huntsman.

Pastor Larry Sweeten from the Liberty Faith Fellowship opened the service with prayer. He said as everyone was praying throughout the disaster they wondered, "Where is our miracle." Pastor Sweeten said maybe the miracle is in what we do from here.

Rep. Jim Matheson said this past week the country took time out to honor the miners. A resolution was passed that honored the miners and those who came to their aid. The community remained steadfast throughout the ordeal. The communities came together and did what they've always done, they held each other close.

The children of Brandon Kimber with their grandpa.

Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor from MSHA said it is with a heavy heart, they pay tribute to those who died at Crandall Canyon. Many of the MSHA employees come from mining families. "We feel your pain. We lost one of our own. Gary Jensen was a valued member of MSHA. He was all the good that MSHA stands for. He was a devoted member of MSHA and his community. He was an EMT, on the town council a dedicated family man to his wife Lola and four children and three grandchildren. His ideals guided his life and he passed that onto his children. He gave his life to save others. They are true heroes. I pray God will bless and comfort you," said Stickler.

Colin King, family spokesman read tributes about the other eight miners prepared by their families. He said Kerry Allred started life prematurely and spent time in an incubator. He had the nickname of Inky for awhile and later became known as Flash. Kerry would have been 58 years old on Sept. 29. He passed away just six days before his wedding anniversary. He and his wife Bessie have three children, Tifani, Cody and Tylee. Kerry loved the guitar and was a great musician and singer. He included his heart and soul in everything he did. Kerry used his entire body to say hello or goodbye. He enjoyed making people laugh and will continue to have input in their lives. Bessie said Kerry will continue to live on in her heart forever.

Don Erickson was a good father and a good husband. He was a good grandfather and proud of his grandkids. Don had a lot of friends. He enjoyed being in the outdoors and he enjoyed telling stories. Don will be greatly missed and he was loved.

Jose Luis Hernandez was born in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. He and his future wife were neighbors as children and used to fight together. After a certain age the fighting turned to flirting and the two spent time bowling and going to movies. He began coal mining to earn money. He wanted to return to Mexico some day. His wife and daughter were the loves of his life. His wife wishes to express her thanks to all who have helped her during this time. She said the last days have not been easy as their loved ones have returned to God.

Carlos Payan Villa was born in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. He was a dear brother to five siblings. He died as a coal miner. He would send money home to pay for his siblings to go to school and to help his mom and dad pay the bills. He was the life of the party and he loved to drive fast and he loved to exercise. He loved Mexico. The Payan family wishes to send their love to the families of the other miners and express their love and gratitude to the rescuers who gave their lives.

Brandon Phillips was a great son to Jamie and Sheila Phillips of Orangeville. He was a great dad to 5 year old Gage. He spoiled Gage and Gage is a real Daddy's boy. Brandon had a lot of friends and relatives. He loved to go snowboarding even though he got hurt doing it, he would get right back up and try again. Brandon would have been proud of his brothers on the rescue team. He will be missed by all. We love you.

Manny Sanchez was 41 years old. He loved and cared for his family. He paid the ultimate price. He gave his family a beautiful home to live in. Manny was an outdoor guy. He loved hunting and fishing. He liked to go to Green River to the beach. He was very close with his brothers. Manny and Marta were married for 22 years. Manny taught during trials and tribulations to take one day at a time. Manny used to flirt with Martha when she worked in a grocery store. He was strict with his children for the right reasons. It is a shame the grandchildren will never have the chance to meet Manny. Manny was a remarkable, friend, brother and husband and father who was taken too soon. He will stay in our hearts and minds. We will keep moving forward. He will not be left behind.

Dale Black was 48 years old. He had two children Corey and Ashley. His wife is Wendy. Dale had the ability to make friends, no one was a stranger to Dale. He hunted everything you could get a license for. He went to Lake Powell with his son and caught 300 fish. He was a tremendous golfer. It was a buck a hole with Dale. Dale even had enough patience to teach his wife Wendy to golf and he enjoyed taking her. He would drive his ATV 65 mph like a kid. His son-in-law, Brad Pruitt said if everyone in the world were a little more like Dale the world would be a better place. Dale was a hero every day, not just on Aug. 16.

Brandon Kimber was our superman, he was born in Moab and graduated from Grand County High. He was 29 years old. Everyone loved Brandon. He was adventurous. He married Kristen Tiller on Aug. 4, 2001. They had three children, daughter Bryton and twins, Paxton and Payton. Brandon was an attentive father and loved being a daddy. He loved mining and driving the equipment. He would tell of his adventures with Bird, Don, Bodee and Benny. He performed his job well and was proud when he became a boss. His daughter said he was like a superman, 'only he couldn't fly'. Brandon was always willing to do anything for anyone. He was a true angel.

The family of Manuel Sanchez.

King said they not only honor those who died, but those who suffered serious injuries as well.

Nancy Allred read a poem she had written for the miners and rescuers called Smile for Me.

"It has been a long time since I've seen all your faces, Your heads all bowed down with your prayers and your tears. Dear family and friends you must remain strong, Try not to be mournful, for too awfully long. You think I am gone, but really I'm not, I'll always be with you, in your heart and your thoughts. I am a miner, you know who I am, Your husband, your father, your brother and son. I am your grandpa and cousin, and I am your friend. I know each of you, my family and friends, But I still miss your faces, and must see them again. So, I have a request, and it's easy you'll see, Look up toward Heaven. Please smile for me."

Stephanie Gerrard sang, Never be Forgotten and Kaitlin Reaves sang, Amazing Grace. Allison Wells sang, Yo Se' Que Vive Mi Senor.

Pastor Carl Sitterud said he is proud to be the son of a coal miner and proud to be part of this community. Pastor Carl said life is balanced on a fine thread. In Timothy it states how do you know what will happen tomorrow. Life is like a morning fog. Here and then gone. Our lives can come to a conclusion at any time. There is a time for everything in God. A time to be born a time to die, a time to tear down and a time to heal. Man was meant to be happy. God teaches how to love. We must love vertically first, if we love God first, then we can love horizontally and care for people as God cares for people. Grief has brought this community together. There have been strangers mourning for strangers. Such kindness and generosity. They have shown a deep caring and concern. Our family has felt the love personally when we lost Dale. Life is a mist. Blessed are they who mourn they will be comforted. Live life to the fullest one day at a time. As we look back at the lives of the miners it will bring a greater meaning to our own lives.

Bishop John C. Wester said they had hoped for a happy ending to the story of the miners, but that was not to be. "We cannot remove the sorrow, but our prayers are with you. Your loved ones continue to live in a kingdom where every tear is wiped away.

Strong bonds have been developed in the community. There has been an outpouring of love and concern. Let this be a source of hope for the families as they move through the days ahead. Innumerable benefactors stand with you. It confirms our conviction that hope did not die in the Crandall Canyon mine. Nine brothers have been called home. Your loved ones are forever with God. There is peace in knowing that all things are possible with God."

Elder M. Russell Ballard said Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley sends his love and concern. "These have been difficult days and difficult days are yet to come. We will stand ready to help and support. Elder Ballard said he wished he could ease the long and painful weeks that have been so difficult. There is always pain at the sudden loss of a loved one. Only one who has experienced it can know what you are feeling.

"There is one who knows, who has experienced your pain and carried your pain, grief and sorrows. He reaches out to you. Come unto me and I will give you rest. The Savior said I am the resurrection and the light, he who believes in me shall live. He who believeth in me shall never die. Faith gives us the ability to endure the challenges of life. Faith gives the courage to cope and move on. It sometimes feels like more than we can bear, but with faith we can cope and endure. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.

"We must unite in faith, let the love of God heal our broken hearts. May tonight begin the healing process. May we look to the Holy One of Israel. He knows your pain, may he enfold you in the arms of love. Love encompasses all understanding. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you, let not your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid as we extend our love and caring and prayers. Life goes on with love in our hearts," said Elder Ballard.

Gordon Franks, the field representative for the Salvation Army gave the closing prayer. He was onsite at the command post for three weeks preparing meals and offering the services of the Salvation Army to those involved.

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