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The National Cathedral and the inauguration: Responses from the dean and the bishop

The National Cathedral and the inauguration: Responses from the dean and the bishop

This story has been amended and updated.

The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and the Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, have written statements responding to protests from many over the National Cathedral’s decisions to host the inaugural interfaith prayer service on Saturday, January 21, and for its choir to sing at the inauguration on January 20. Bishop Budde’s statement can be here; following are excerpts:

First, I want to acknowledge the anger and disappointment that our decisions have engendered. And to say that I’m listening, because the spiritual principles that move many of you to protest are essential for the work that lies ahead. While I do not ask you to agree, I simply ask you to consider that we, too, acted on spiritual principles. Those principles, while they may seem to conflict with yours, are also essential for the work that lies ahead.

Bishop Budde expands on three principles – first, that “we welcome all people into our houses of prayer.”

The second spiritual principle that informs my decision is that in times of national division, the Episcopal Church is called to be a place where those who disagree can gather for prayer and learning and to work for the good of all. I am alarmed by some of Mr. Trump’s words and deeds and by those who now feel emboldened to speak and act in hateful ways. Nonetheless, I believe in the power of God to work for good, and the capacity of our nation to rise to our highest ideals. As President Obama said in his last speech, our nation’s future will be determined by our resolve to “restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.” I ask the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to join me in dedication to that purpose, in faithfulness to Christ and as ones who cherish the gift of democracy.

The decisions were made in the hope of offering “a few moments of spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty.” Participation in the inauguration is voluntary.

From the Dean’s statement, which can be read in full here:

As Christians, we are called, among other things, to be a people of peace and agents of reconciliation. Our choir is singing at the inauguration to honor the peaceful transition of power that is at the heart of our democratic government. Let me be clear: We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda, regardless of the man (or woman) taking that sacred oath of office. We sing to honor the nation.

Photo from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington site


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The Rev. Dr. Elaine McCoy, PhD

Remember this from our prayers for repentance:

“Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our
indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.”

And remember this from our Baptismal promises:
“Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
– I renounce them.
Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
– I renounce them.”

These are not conditional prayers and promises. They require courage and truth-acting. The National Cathedral should REVERSE its commitment to include our choir in the inauguration of an illegitimate and corrupt “President:.

Audrey Nickel

I am absolutely sickened at the idea of the cathedral choir singing at the inauguration. While a prayer service may not be an endorsement, singing at the event is a different thing all together. If the choir were to sing at the prayer service I’d be OK with it, but this is something else entirely. As an Episcopalian, and particularly as an Episcopal chorister, I object to this misuse of the cathedral choir in the strongest possible terms.

The Rev. Stuart Schadt

I am asking that you join me in calling the cathedral and leaving messages Telephone: (202) 537-6200 Press 0 to leave a message. If you listen to the long message you will find out that the prayer service at the cathedral is a private event and tickets are only available through the inaugural committee. I haven’t decided how I feel about that.This may be especially powerful on Tuesday when they open after the holidays.

After calling the Cathedral please call the Diocese of Washington. 202-537-6555

Jonathan Dimock Secor


As a life long Episcopalian, and as someone who currently works for an Episcopal organization, I implore you to re-think having our Choir perform at the inauguration of a person who is the exact opposite of what the Church, starting with Jesus, has fought so hard against. Hatred. Bigotry. Violence. Greed. There is no “love one’s neighbor as thyself” in this person’s lexicon. If you must, and there is tradition saying one must, host the prayer service, then so be it. But do not let the Choir sing, showing to the world, whether we want to or not, that the Episcopal Church is blessing this ceremony of installing hatred into the White House. As a native New Yorker I have followed the hateful career of this man from the days when his father and him purposefully refused to rent to people of color. This is not a person in any way shape of form that should have the blessing of the Episcopal Church. I ask respectfully that you not have our Choir perform. Thank you for listening. Jonathan

Ria Sarducci

Jesus Movement? Yeah right. WHERE?!

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