Courtney Cowart, a witness to the 9/11 attack in New York City and a key figure in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, will be a special guest at Monmouth College and a local church, Sept. 9-10.
A nationally-respected voice on the topic of sacred citizenship and the heightened engagement of Americans in service, politics, government and public life that has emerged in America since 9/11, Cowart will deliver the sermon for Monmouth College’s weekly chapel service at 12:10 p.m. on Sept. 10, nearly 11 years to the day of the tragic attack. She will also speak to a class and meet with faculty interested in civic engagement, in addition to being a guest at Faith United Presbyterian Church on Sept. 9.
Cowart’s formative years were spent in the orbit of many of Atlanta’s most famous civil rights leaders, and her mother worked as an assistant to Coretta Scott King. Her earliest memories of the church are of rallies and demonstrations led by activist priests. In 1990, Cowart entered The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York, where she read for two degrees, a master’s and a doctorate in spiritual formation and development and American church history.
Cowart had recently completed the terminal degree in her field and was working as program officer for spiritual formation and social transformation at Trinity Church Wall Street in 2001, less than two blocks from the World Trade Center. She and a group of 30 leading theologians, including the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, were trapped for a time and then evacuated onto the street as the North Tower nearly buried them alive.
Four days later, Cowart returned to the site and led in the formation of a renowned recovery ministry at Trinity’s St. Paul’s Chapel, which became known as “The Little Chapel That Stood.”
Four years later, her national church deployed her to New Orleans days after Katrina. She has since served at the side of the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, helping to forge a justice movement of sacred activists committed to rebuilding the community from the ravages of the worst disaster in U.S. history.
In 2008, her memoir, “An American Awakening” was launched at St. Paul’s Chapel in a moving ceremony that brought together heroes of both tragedies.