President Barack Obama is planning to participate in a special prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral the morning after he takes the oath of office, his inaugural committee announced Tuesday.
An inaugural service was first held by President George Washington and has been a tradition for most modern presidencies, including for Obama four years ago with religious leaders from across the country and patriotic-themed hymns. This time Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to attend an invitation-only interfaith service on Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. to close a weekend full of inaugural events.
“The beginning of President Obama’s second term will be marked by the acknowledgement and celebration of the role of people of faith in American life,” Presidential Inaugural Committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said in a statement. “President Obama’s own faith has played an integral role in his life, his commitment to service and his presidency, and this important tradition will celebrate the values and diversity that make us strong.”
“The cathedral has come to be known as a spiritual home for the nation, and as part of living into that calling it is our prayer that the service will embody the hopes and vision of our nation, and that God’s purpose might shine forth with new clarity in our lives,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Cathedral….
Cathedral leaders took the rare step of weighing in on a contentious political debate this past weekend by calling for stricter gun control in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop, preached that civilians shouldn’t own assault weapons. Hall, in his sermon Sunday, said that Christians have a moral obligation to work to end gun violence and the cathedral should become a focal point for advocating gun control.