Washington, DC, November 11, 2007
Connecticut Celebrated at Special Service at Washington National Cathedral
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WASHINGTON — At the end of church service, Jonathan Hammond stood in line to greet Samuel Lloyd, the dean of Washington National Cathedral. Nine years ago in Boston, Jonathan was baptized by Lloyd, who then was rector of Trinity Church.
Jonathan’s sister Elizabeth, 11, also had been baptized by Lloyd in Boston. The reverend also had presided at the marriage of their mother Carrie and father Jonathan, back in 1994.
It had been a while since Jonathan said hello to Lloyd. The Hammonds moved to Farmington, Conn., in 2004 and Lloyd relocated to Washington and became dean of Washington National Cathedral in 2005.
But Lloyd recognized Jonathan and his sister as they approached. “Hi there! How are you?” he exclaimed, patting them both.
Jonathan asked if the reverend had seen him carry the gift basket during the service. “You did a good job,” Lloyd told him.
The Hammonds renewed friendships on Nov. 11 along with several hundred other Connecticut residents who traveled to a special worship celebrating the state and its people at Washington National Cathedral.
All told, 1,174 people were in attendance for the 11:15 am service.
They also witnessed an extraordinary appearance by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African cleric who became a world figure for his opposition to apartheid and who played a major role in the healing of that nation post-apartheid as head of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As part of its outreach mission, the Cathedral designates one state each month for a special service, inviting local clergy, political leaders and parishoners of all faiths. Connecticut Day also continued Washington National Cathedral’s celebration of its centennial year.
The Right Rev. Dr. Laura J. Ahrens, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, led the Nov. 11 service, while worshipers from the Nutmeg State read Scripture, took part in the opening procession and played other featured roles.
Tutu was spotlighted in The Sunday Forum, a cathedral program immediately preceding the service that explores issues where faith intersects with public life.
Conversing with Dean Lloyd in front of the congregation, Tutu spoke about forgiveness and how South Africa was able to accomplish reconciliation following decades of unspeakable atrocities and political oppression.
“We probably had someone betting for us up there,” Tutu said, motioning heaven-ward. “We were given the extraordinary gift of Nelson Mandela.” Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing apartheid yet emerged to lead the reformation of the nation and became the first president of the fully democratic South Africa in 1994.
“He had the credibility which could make people accept moving not in the direction of retribution and revenge, but let’s try forgiveness and reconciliation,” Tutu said.
In remarks both serious and playful, Tutu said forgiveness is a vital human attribute, reflecting that people are defined mainly through their interactions with others.
“A person is a person through others,” Tutu said. “It is impossible to be human as a solitary individual. You cannot come into the world fully formed. You do not know how to speak as a human being, walk as a human being, think as a human being, be a human being, except from learning from other human beings.
“We are interdependent. My humanity is caught up in your humanity. I need you to be all you can be in order for me to become all that I can
“When I undermine your humanity, when I dehumanize you, whether I like it or not, I in the process am dehumanized,” Tutu said.
“To forgive is not being altruistic, it is the best for our self-interest,” Tutu smiled. “It is the best form of selfishness. “When you hold a grudge, your blood pressure rises, your heart beats boom boom boom, you are tense, and your tum-tum also misbehaves. So forgiving is good for your health.”
Tutu also observed that Americans “are some of the most generous people I have ever come across. In philanthropy you are at the top of the league.
“Why don’t you export this rather than your bombs?” Tutu said, drawing applause.
Dean Lloyd delivered the sermon in which he paid tribute to Tutu.
“It looks like the central question of the 21st century will be can we human beings learn to let go of the burdens of our past, and engage our differences and in doing that create a hopeful future,” Lloyd said.
Expressing wonder at how South Africa was able to get beyond apartheid, Lloyd said, “Forgiveness has proved to be the most powerful tool that the human race ever imagined.”
Connecticut visitors played key roles at the service that celebrated the state’s contributions to the character of America
Steve Hershey of East Windsor, a former Marine and World War II veteran, carried the Connecticut flag into the cathedral during the opening procession
Besides Jonathan Hammond, Bryan Fowler of West Hartford delivered food baskets to the altar during the Offertory. Other oblation bearers were Theo-Jane Gammie of Danbury, Kenneth Evans of Putnam, Donna Hussung of Enfield and Janet Ritchie of East Hartford.
Janet Donston of Glastonbury, co-chair of the Connecticut chapter of the National Cathedral Association, read Scripture.
Acolytes representing local parishes marched in the service’s grand opening procession, carrying colorful banners from their churches back home
Among the churches represented were St. John’s Episcopal Church, of West Hartford; St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Madison; St. James’ Episcopal Church of Glastonbury; Christ & Holy Trinity Church of Westport; St. Ann’s Episcopal Church of Old Lyme; St. John’s Episcopal Church of East Windsor; and St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, Hartford.
ATTN PRINT MEDIA: If you desire e-mail transmission of this account and/or photos sent as JPEG attachments please contact Elizabeth Mullen at the number above. Available on the website are print-quality photos of Washington National Cathedral (’Photos for Print” under ’News” at www.cathedral.org/cathedral).
SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral