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Eastertide 2017

14 January 2017
Episcopalians respond to the announcement of Washington National Cathedral Choir's participation in the 58th Presidential Inauguration
Sinden.org is reading and receiving (at dsinden@gmail.com) reaction from Episcopalians about the Washington National Cathedral Choir singing in the upcoming presidential inauguration on Friday, Jan. 20. (Please note that the Choir was already scheduled to sing on Saturday, Jan. 21 for an inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral.)

This post will be continuously updated.


A Word From Dean Randy Hollerith, 17 January

I understand the strong disagreement many people have with the decisions to accept an invitation for the Cathedral choir to sing at the Inauguration and for the Cathedral to host the Inaugural Prayer Service. I am sorry those decisions have caused such turmoil and pain. Yet I stand by those decisions — not because we are celebrating the President-elect, but because we want to model for him, and the rest of the country, an approach to civility.

Understand that civility does not mean endorsing a president’s views, behavior or rhetoric, nor compromising our own Christian values. Our willingness to pray and sing with everyone today does not mean we won’t join with others in protest tomorrow. We will always strive to bridge the divide and repair the breaches in our life together. As a Cathedral, we have decided that we will approach this moment as open-handedly as possible.


Samuel Carabetta, St. John's, Georgetown Parish, Washington, D.C. (received by email 15 January, and Facebook post)

The announcement that the Cathedral Choir of Men, Boys and Girls will perform during the musical prelude to the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony is extremely unfortunate and unwise. It contributes to “normalizing” the election of the most notorious and divisive person ever to become President of the United States, a man who has trampled on the church’s teachings time and again. This is not a normal occurrence and certainly not a normal President. It lends the moral authority of the Episcopal Church to Trump and all he represents. It also reduces the Cathedral Choir to nothing more than one of the “acts” at the event in question.

There is a vast gulf between praying for our elected leaders and praising them in this way. Yes, at a time when emotions are raw, it is important to offer spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty; however the leaders of our church have chosen the wrong person and the wrong audience. Many years ago, at another time of deep national division, the Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre established Washington National Cathedral as a spiritual home and source of inspiration for those who opposed McCarthyism, racism, poverty, and the Vietnam War. Lending aid and comfort to the Trump inauguration tramples on that legacy.


Gary Hall, former Dean of the cathedral, quoted in
Jenkins, Jack. "Washington National Cathedral under fire". Thinkprogress.org, 13 Jan 2017

“I would not have held the inaugural prayer service, nor would I have allowed the choir to sing because the positions Trump has taken are so inimical to the gospel. I know it has been our tradition to do it, but this is a really different kind of candidacy and presidency—and it’s a time, really, for the church to be the resistance to this kind of authoritarianism instead of legitimizing it by allowing it to use the symbols of Christianity.”

A full statement from Hall on 17 January: "Washington’s National Cathedral should not bestow a blessing on Donald Trump", Religion News Service


A Message from National Cathedral School, from Kathleen Jamieson, Head of School (web, accessed 18 Jan 2017)

I urged the dean and the bishop to reconsider having our children participate in this particular transition of power, given that many in our community see it as in conflict with our school values of excellence, service, courage, and conscience. This was a rare occasion in my 14 years of working collaboratively with colleagues at the Cathedral where we did not agree.

Letter to Bishop Budde, Dean Hollerith, Fr. Barnett, and Mr. McCarthy, 13 Jan 2017, John M. Russell, Christ Church of Hamilton & Wenham, Mass.

I find it puzzling at best, and reprehensible at worst, that any entity within The Episcopal Church would desire to offer such support and affirmation to this particular individual… I remind you that the President-Elect is someone who has mocked a disabled person in front of a crowd, has repeatedly spouted clear racism and bigotry, has advocated for war crimes, has invited the interference of a foreign power in our electoral process, and whose blatant misogyny is well documented. How you can possibly believe that it is appropriate to encourage children to participate in an event whose purpose is to honor and support such a person is not only disturbing but such an encouragement borders on the immoral. I wonder how a young boy in the Cathedral Choir will realize, 10 or 15 years from now, that trusted adults in his life suggested and supported the proposition that he offer his God given musical talent in support of a person whose reputation and behavior is so vulgar and despicable.

"Hold Fast To That Which Is Good", 14 Jan 2017, Nicholas White, St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.

It’s not enough to see both sides of the argument. It’s not enough to be all things to all people. It’s time to stand up against evil and hold fast to that which is good. In other words, don’t accept invitations to do things that run counter to your core values. You cannot be a strong leader of an institution, offer mere platitudes, and simply say that you see both sides of the situation.

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