Monday, January 19, 2009

Episcopalians and the Inauguration -- A Disproportionate Presence

For a teeny tiny denomination, for a denomination that is NOT the denomination of the incoming president (who is UCC), the Episcopal Church is getting a lot of visibility during the inauguration ceremonies of Barack Obama.

Yesterday, the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, gave the opening prayer prior to the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial:

Then tomorrow morning, prior to the Inaugural Ceremony itself, the Obamas will attend a private prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, directly across from the White House. Dallas megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes will preach. Franklin D. Roosevelt began the tradition of attending a private prayer service at St. John's prior to his inauguration. Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents did the same. (George W. Bush has worshipped regularly at St. John's throughout his tenure, a fact rarely noted by his evangelical backers ...)

On Wednesday, the Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, better known as the National Cathedral,will host an interfaith prayer service. The Right Reverend John B. Chane, bishop of Washington, the cathedral dean, the Rev. Samuel Lloyd, and our own Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will participate.

Maybe Obama will be moved by our wonderful liturgy and culture of welcome and respect, to choose an Episcopal church for his church home in Washington. St. John's, also known as "The Church of the Presidents", is convenient and pre-screened for presidential security. But Obama is known to love the rocking choirs of the Black Church. In which case, perhaps he would enjoy worship at St. George's Episcopal Church, located near Howard University. On the first and third Sundays of every month, it offers straight up Episcopal worship. But on the second and fourth Sundays, Voices of Praise, the parish's gospel choir, provides the music leadership in an up-tempo, gospel style.

Anyway, for the next few days, Episcopalians will be front and center. Don't miss the opportunity to tell your friends, "Yes, that's MY CHURCH!"

+ Kit