Washington, DC, February 22, 2004
Washington Major State Day
Major Event Celebrates Washington State at Washington National Cathedral
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WASHINGTON Dozens of Washington state worshipers traveled cross-country along with religious and elected leaders to take part in a major church service and celebration Feb. 22 at the landmark Washington National Cathedral.
Pilgrims from Washington comprised a substantial portion of the 673 worshipers who attended the cathedrals 11 a.m. service marking Washington State Day, which coincidentally took place on the birthday of George Washington, born Feb. 22, 1732.
The Rev. Canon Michael Wyatt, Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral who formerly held positions in the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and who taught at Seattle University, was featured as guest preacher.
The acclaimed choir from St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Seattle performed the service prelude, and Washington pilgrims played key roles throughout the worship.
The Right Rev. Sanford Z.K. Hampton, Assisting Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, was chief celebrant. He applauded the pilgrims who made the trip and also Washington natives now living in the District of Columbia and its suburbs who attended. He commented that many people retain their identity as being from the Evergreen State long after they move away.
We are absolutely ecstatic about the turnout of Washingtonians, Bishop Hampton said. There were many out there today who consider themselves Washingtonians and who represented the state.
For the past six years, Washington National Cathedral has set aside one major state day each month in seeking to fulfill its national mission of outreach to all faiths. The National Cathedral Association, the membership organization that supports the cathedrals mission and ministries, organized Washington State Day in conjunction with their local Washington State volunteers and invited religious and elected leaders and congregants from many different churches and denominations to take part.
As a national house of prayer for all people, the cathedral opens it doors to all, said Vanessa Andrews, director of the National Cathedral Association. We were thrilled to have so many from across the Evergreen State with us on the day. Our volunteers and staff worked hard to make this day happen. It is wonderful to see the fruits of their labor.
The Rev. Wyatt addressed the congregation from the historic Canterbury Pulpit, from where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his last Sunday sermon.
Wyatt commented on the film, The Passion of The Christ, and its creator, Mel Gibson, who has fielded praise for his effort and criticism from those who believe his film contains anti-Semitic elements.
This film is not the gospel, Wyatt said. Much has been made of the claim that it is faithful to gospel accounts but in fact it is not. Gibson has added conversations and figures that come out of legend and presumably his own inspiration. This is where he most left himself open to accusations of anti-Semitism.
Still, Wyatt said, Gibsons desire to tell the story of the final hours of Christ is testimony to the power of Jesus. We all should be so moved. It may not have been the story I would have told, but I recognize healing and I pray that Gods grace will continue to be active in his life. This is what us Christians do. We tell each other and we tell other people about Jesus.
The St. Stephens Church choir offered a 30-minute performance leading into the worship service. The 26 members performed a mixture of Renaissance hymns and modern spirituals, which were carefully chosen to complement the scripture readings for the day. Choir director Leslie Martin composed the opening and closing hymns, incorporating Dutch bells that were rung by choristers to enhance the performance.
Martin said the choir had been rehearsing since September for its debut in the acoustic-rich cathedral. They trained to propel their voices across the Cathedral nave, which is longer than a football field.
I think they did very well, Martin said afterward. Im very pleased and theyre very pleased. We did what we came to do, to share a musical gift that theyve been working very hard on. People have been working to make this a special offering from our state 3,000 miles away.
The choir drew other praise. Their voices filled the cathedral and thats not easy to do, said the Rev. Canon Eugene T. Sutton of Washington National Cathedral, who assisted in the service and who welcomed the Washington visitors.
U.S. Rep. Brian Baird and his wife Rachel Nugent were guests at the service. Baird said he holds a special tie to the Cathedral three years ago he proposed marriage while the couple strolled through Bishops Garden on Cathedral grounds.
Baird noted, we came here after 9-11, its a place we come when people die in office and when national tragedies happen. He also spoke of how Washington National Cathedral binds people from various faiths and various parts of the country. This is a place where we all can come together to honor our tradition of religious freedom and our shared values, and to contemplate, which is a relatively rare opportunity in this town.
Washington visitors played key roles throughout the service. June Jackson, director of spiritual formation at Seattle First United Methodist Church, read Scripture, as did Linda Chapman of Seattle, a regional leader of the National Cathedral Association.
Robert Lewis of Mercer Island, Elaine Ludtke of Freeland, Darrell Powell of Lakewood, Nan Grayston of Seattle, Anne Galt of Seattle and brothers Richard and Brendan McGovern of Seattle carried gifts to the altar during the offertory.
Charles Gott of Sequim carried the state flag in the opening procession. The flag was placed on the chancel steps, where it will remain for a week in further recognition of the state.
Afterwards, the National Cathedral Association sponsored a reception recognizing Washington participants. The Rev. Sutton presented Rep. Baird and others with pins designating honorary membership in the National Cathedral Association.
Cathedral officials also thanked the NCAs volunteer leaders and association members in Washington, part of a network of more than 14,000 people in every state and around the world.
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SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral