Monday, July 23, 2012

Charlie Duke commemorates Aldrin communion

Apollo 11 capcom and Apollo 16 lunar module pilot Charlie Duke addresses Monte Sano Methodist Church in Alabama, July 22, 2012. Congregants snacked on Moon Pies and Tang before heading into the sanctuary to commemorate Buzz Aldrin's "lunar communion" 43 years ago, Friday [Glenn Baeske/The Huntsville Times].
Steve Doyle
The Huntsville Times

"It seemed only appropriate that astronaut Charlie Duke - the 10th human to set foot on the moon - was the guest of honor at the church's "Lunar Communion" service Sunday morning.

Pastor Dale Clem said Monte Sano United Methodist is one of just two U.S. churches that commemorate astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon July 20, 1969 - 43 years ago Friday. Aldrin's church, Webster Presbyterian in Houston, is the other.Before heading into the sanctuary, worshipers snacked on Moon Pies, crescent-shaped cantaloupe slices and, of course, Tang.

Selected for the astronaut program in 1966, Duke was in mission control as Aldrin and Neil Armstrong delicately maneuvered their Apollo 11 lunar landing module toward the moon's surface.

"Roger, copy you down, Eagle...We're
breathing again." As Apollo 11 capcom,
Duke was first to talk directly with
another on the Moon [NASA].
Duke, the lunar landing module pilot, said his heart was racing at 144 beats per minute as the Saturn V took to the heavens. Commander John Young, making his second space voyage, was a relaxed 70 beats per minute.

When Duke's heart finally stopped hammering, wonder took over. He said he'll never forget the first time he gazed back toward home from 20,000 miles away.

"That jewel of Earth - the browns of the land and the crystal blue of the oceans and the pure white of the snow and clouds - is indelibly imprinted upon my mind."

Duke said he didn't have a spiritual experience, per se, during the 20 hours he spent combing the moon's surface.

But after returning to a hero's welcome and diving back into the business world, he said he began longing for something more.

Duke said he found what he was looking for when he reluctantly agreed to attend a three-day Bible study at a tennis club in New Braunfels, Texas.

Read the full article, HERE.

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