Washington, DC, July 15, 2007
South Carolina Major State Day
South Carolina Celebrated in Special Worship Service at Washington National Cathedral
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WASHINGTON Connor Smith looked a bit anxiously at the towering staff upon which was draped a felt and cloth banner identifying St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church, of Columbia, S.C.
Smith, 9, was contemplating carrying the banner and polewhich at roughly 7 feet tall was almost double his heightin a grand procession down the seemingly endless center aisle of the Washington National Cathedral nave.
It will take me a while to get to the altar, its a little heavy for me, Connor said with a bit of hesitation.
You can do that, its not hard, encouraged his grandmother, Marnie Smith.
Sure enough a few minutes later, Connor Smith was marching with his head up and the banner forward, along with other young acolytes carrying colorful banners from a half dozen Palmetto State communities to open the July 15 worship service celebrating South Carolina State Day.
Afterwards, Connor made his way back to his grandmother and grandfather, Robin Smith, and confided some advice he was given by a more experienced banner bearer that made his march a success. It is permissible to hold your hands apart to gain leverage as you hold the pole. It also is okay to dip the banner forward a bit for balance.
Each month Washington National Cathedral, which has hosted state funerals and other religious events of national significance, celebrates a states contributions to the character of America. Religious and civic leaders as well as citizens are invited.
More than 300 South Carolina pilgrims as well as natives now living in Washington attended the July 15 special service celebrating the people and leaders of the state. Like Connor Smith, South Carolinians were put forward to carry flags, recite readings, and deliver Offertory gifts to the altar.
The Right Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, presided at the service before 1,241 worshipers at the landmark cathedral.
Henderson said he was proud of South Carolinas association with the Cathedral. He said the generous turnout of worshipers and particularly from South Carolina, says that people can come together and worship and share in the life of the church and in the life of the world. It points out that as a people we are one.
The honor of reading Scripture was given to Nell Barr of West Columbia, who at 29 years is the longest-serving regional volunteer leader of the National Cathedral Association, and who was credited with nurturing strong ties between the South Carolina Church and the Cathedral in Washington.
Ive had the honor and privilege of (reading Scripture) twice in my lifetime, and it has been a highlight of my life, Barr said. For a chance to be able to take part, I feel so honored. Ive tried to make the Cathedral visible in South Carolina.
Family members who looked on as Barr ascended the pulpit to read from Deuteronomy included her daughter, Beverly Moore of Columbia; grand-daughter Ann Stuart McMillan; grandson, MacReadie Barr of Washington; and her niece and her husband Laurie and Perrin Radley of Washington.
The Rev. Canon William Barnwell, a South Carolina native now serving as canon missioner of Washington National Cathedral, delivered the sermon following the gospel passage of St. Luke in which Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.
I have always been intrigued by how Jesus tells stories to explain his most profound teachings, Barnwell said. He then told a South Carolina story to expand on what it means to be a neighbor to fellow man.
Barnwell was a young priest in Conway, S.C. in the late 1960s. He got to know the Moore family, whose daughter Cheryl was one of the first black students to attend all-white Conway High School in 1968.
During her first weeks at school, Cheryl endured the silent treatment from fellow students, broken only on occasion when someone would call her a racial name. Her parents implored her not to be discouraged but it was tough.
Just when Cheryl was ready to quit, a white student named Cindy sat next to her on the bus, struck up a conversation and the two became friends. Cheryl decided to stay in school, and the two girls remain friends to this day.
It was this teenager, not the Congress or the Supreme Court, who taught us, the adults, what it means to be a neighbor, Barnwell said. It is the good Samaritan who crosses over to the other side to bring healing. Its the Cindys who step up and love.
The Árpád Darázs Singers, a Columbia choral group named after a South Carolina educator who was a mentor to many musicians in the state, performed a 25-minute prelude of sacred music performed a cappella under the direction of conductor Robert D. Neese, Jr.
To further represent the state, the music group extended invitations to singers from Episcopal Church choruses in South Carolina, and voices from Darlington, Conway and Florence churches were added to the performance group.
Three choristers from the Palmetto Mastersingers, a mens choir founded by Árpád Darázs, also joined the group, which presented 41 strong and rich voices for the cathedral performance.
Choir president Robin Dean said the singers were proud of their concert and honored to have taken part in South Carolina State Day.
It felt very good, Dean said as the singers were accepting congratulations afterwards. It felt like I hoped it would sound. I think we did as well as we have ever done. I feel that it was to the Lords glory.
Dean looked over at Neese, who was wearing a broad smile. I think about Roberts reaction, he always smiles when he thinks we have done a good job, Dean said.
A number of South Carolina parishes were represented at the service, including, All Saints of Florence; St. Matthews of Spartanburg; St. Albans of Lexington; St. Johns Church of Columbia; St. Barnabas of Dillon and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, of West Columbia.
Mark Sigmon of Darlington, and Georgia Hart, Julie Chiles, William Kana, Anne Stuart McMillan and Bobbi Kennedy, all from Columbia, carried communion elements during the Offertory.
Townsend Zeigler, a native of Columbia who now lives in Washington, carried the South Carolina flag during the opening procession. He placed it on the chancel steps, where it was to remain for a week as a further acknowledgement of the state.
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