First Landing, Communion on Moon Remembered

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From the White House to NASA, politicians and scientists gathered Monday to celebrate the anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon mission.

It was 40 years ago to the day that astronaut Neil Armstrong made the historic first step on the moon. Armstrong will forever be remembered for saying the words, "That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

In a rare public speech in Washington, Armstrong said the moon mission "left a lasting imprint on society and history." He and the other astronauts from the moon mission, including Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins also met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. During their meeting with the president, the astronauts encouraged him to set the country's sights on the next quest in space exploration -- a manned mission to Mars.

A Communion Service on the Moon

Astronaut Aldrin may have gone down in history as the second person to step foot on the moon, but he does hold one unique distinction.  He held the first communion service while he and Armstrong were on the moon.

The Washington Post reported that the service was not broadcast, because NASA was concerned about a lawsuit from atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. 

Every year, since the moon landing, the Webster Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas, commemorates Aldrin's moon communion service. At that time, Aldrin sat with Armstrong in the Lunar Module, and pulled out his personal preference kit given to him by the Houston church. The kit contained bread, wine and a silver chalice.

"It's kind of a tradition around here," said the church's Gene Fisseler. "It's still church. It's not about the moon. It's not about the astronauts. It's still about church. But we feel like it's an important tradition here in this church."

While taking communion on the moon, Aldrin read from the Bible's New Testament. The scripture was John 15:5. It reads, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me."

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