President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden yesterday in keeping with the tradition attended the Washington National Cathedral for the inaugural prayer service, a tradition as old as the country itself.
The service is meant to provide a spiritual boost to the newly sworn-in president. Prominent national clergy - from the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh traditions - will offer prayers to Obama, A leader from the Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination that focuses on outreach to gays and lesbians, is among the speakers at the service this year for the first time, a moment of inclusion that echoes Obama's historic outreach to gay Americans in Monday's inaugural address.
Among the political heavyweights were Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Transportation Secretary Raymond H. LaHood, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Church in the United States, is frequently chosen to host memorial services and events honoring prominent American leaders from across the political spectrum.
There have been inaugural prayer services since the time of George Washington, but they have been held consistently at the cathedral since 1933, with the exception of the services after the inaugurations of Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997.
Among those participating in the service at the cathedral are: Wuerl; the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America and leader of the Sterling mega-mosque All Dulles Area Muslim Society; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of rabbis from Judaism's Conservative movement; and the Rev.
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.