Washington, DC, June 12, 2005
Maryland Major State Day
Marylanders Celebrated at Special Worship Service at Washington National Cathedral
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WASHINGTON More than 1,000 worshipers gathered at the landmark Washington National Cathedral on June 12 to celebrate the people and leaders of Maryland and the states distinctive history of religious tolerance.
Seeds of acceptance that were planted when Roman Catholic settlers arrived in 1634 blossomed as the American principle of religious freedom, said The Rev. William M. Shand III, who delivered the sermon as guest preacher.
Shand, rector of St. Francis Church in Potomac, Md., paid tribute to church figures in Marylands history including 18th century priest and missionary Thomas Bray; Alexander Crummel, who pioneered work among African-American clergy in the 1800s; and Francis Scott Key, who was a prominent vestry member besides being the author of The Star-Spangled Banner.
During the Civil War, Episcopal Bishop William Rollinson Whittingham oversaw a deeply divided religious community. A staunch Unionist, Whittingham struggled with divisions within his diocese, where many clergy refused to pray for President Abraham Lincoln. Shand said the bishop appealed to the foundations of church faith to salve the bitterness.
Maryland also is the heir to many quiet legacies, Shand said, like sisters Sadie and Marguerite Gray, who were parish pillars in Calvert County through the 1900s.
More than 500 Marylanders took part in the Cathedrals 11 a.m. service marking Maryland State Day. The participants were spotlighted at the majestic cathedral, where the nation has celebrated presidential inaugurals, mourned the death of leaders at state funerals and marked tragedies like the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist acts.
The 35-member Maryland State Boychoir, of Baltimore, under the direction of Frank Cimino, performed a 20-minute prelude to the worship. The choir of St. Francis Church of Potomac, directed by Gary Davison, sang during the service.
The Right Rev. Robert W. Ilhoff, Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, was celebrant, while the Right Rev. James J. Shand, the Episcopal Bishop of Easton, was concelebrant.
As part of its national ministry, Washington National Cathedral gathers people to pray for the people and leaders of each state annually. The cathedral, where leaders of all faiths have marked special events, elevates each state in celebration with a major observance once every four years.
Carrying colorful banners, acolytes from Trinity Church in Towson, Christ Church in Rock Springs and St. Andrews in College Park marched in a service-opening procession. Gene Slear of Cambridge carried the state flag, which was placed on the chancel steps and will remain there for a week to further recognize the state.
Sarah R. Ahmed of Aberdeen, a direct support professional who has served Marylanders with severe disabilities for over 17 years, with The Arc, Northern Chesapeake Region, read Scripture. Offertory gift-bearers were Faith Harland-White of Annapolis and her son Paul, Patty Campbell of Baltimore, Kellyanne Venit of Laurel, Dee Alevizatos of Baltimore and Mary Clubb of Clinton.
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SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral