NJ church group heads home from Egypt

February 3, 2011 5:17:04 PM PST
16 members of Bridgewater United Methodist Church set off on a tour of The Holy Lands earlier this month.

They spent a week in Israel renewing vows in the River Jordan, standing on Mount Olive and praying at the Wailing Wall.

The group headed home after the Israel tour, but the church's senior pastor, Rev. Vicki Brendler, her husband and 14 others began their journey back to the states by going to Cairo first.

"That's when it all started to fall apart. They'd been hoping to tour the pyramids. That didn't happen," Rev. Christina Zito explained.

The 16 had been trying to leave since Friday. Rev Zito was told of one frightful moment for them while they were heading to a hotel near the airport in Cairo to await a safe flight out.

"We heard there were shots fired at the van and some physical altercation," Zito said.

Back at home, it was time to pray. Cathi Reckenbeil had been with the group in Israel. Now her thoughts were on their well-being.

"Did they have a safe place to stay? Did they have food?" she said.

Communication had been mostly through email. The best one came just hours ago. They were airborne finally on a flight to Rome.

"I know in time, even though they had the horrible scare, they'll be able to look back and appreciate the best things that happened to them on this trip," Zito said.