[ENS, by Mary Frances Schjonberg] The involvement of Washington National Cathedral and its choir in the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump has stirred concern in parts of the US-based Episcopal Church. The Cathedral Choir accepted an invitation to perform during the musical prelude to next Friday’s (20 January) inauguration ceremony.
The cathedral confirmed three weeks ago that it would once again play out one of its traditional roles in US life by offering Trump and the nation a chance to come together in prayer. The invitation-only 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service will take place at 10 am next Saturday (21 January), the day after Trump is sworn in as the 45th president.
After news of the choir’s participation prompted a deluge of comments on social media as well as emails to officials involved, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Cathedral Dean Randolph Hollerith all issued statements addressing those concerns.
“We all know this election has been contentious and there are deep feelings being felt by Episcopalians on all sides of the issues,” Curry said in his statement. “We recognize that this election has been contentious, and the Episcopal Church, like our nation, has expressed a diversity of views, some of which have been born in deep pain.”
Acknowledging that there has been “much discussion, and some controversy” about the appropriateness of the cathedral hosting the traditional prayer service, and of one of its choirs singing at the inauguration, Curry said that those issues raise “some basic Christian questions about prayer.
“When I pray for our leaders, why am I doing so? Should I pray for a leader I disagree with? When I pray, what do I think I am accomplishing?” is how Curry described the questions.
The presiding bishop said the practice of prayer for leaders is “deep in our biblical and Anglican / Episcopalian traditions.”
Curry said that tradition of prayer means Episcopalians are praying that “their leadership will truly serve not partisan interest, but the common good.”
- Click here to read Mary Frances Schjonberg’s full report for the Episcopal News Service.