From a January 17 message from the Dean of Washington National Cathedral:
“I understand the strong disagreement many people have with the decisions to accept an invitation for the Cathedral choir to sing at the Inauguration and for the Cathedral to host the Inaugural Prayer Service. I am sorry those decisions have caused such turmoil and pain. Yet I stand by those decisions–not because we are celebrating the President-elect, but because we want to model for him, and the rest of the county, an approach to civility.
Understand that civility does not mean endorsing a president’s views, behavior or rhetoric, nor compromising our own Christian values. Our willingness to pray and sing with everyone today does not mean we won’t join with others in protest tomorrow. We will always strive to bridge the divide and repair the breaches in our life together. As a Cathedral, we have decided that we will approach that moment as open-handedly as possible.
In this and in all disagreements, we should never turn away from the opportunity to engage in any conversation. We can have no conversation, and this Cathedral can have no convening authority, if those with whom we disagree only see a turned back or are met with condescension or derision. God meets us where we are, and we must do the same for one another.
At the Inauguration on Friday, our choir will sing “God Bless America,” among other pieces, not as a political endorsement, but as an affirmation that we are still one nation under God. Why are we going? For the same reasons Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and others are going: To honor our nation, to support our democracy, to promote the peaceful transition of power, to celebrate our aspirations and to lift up the values that have blessed this nation.”
“I believe our job is to work together to build a country where everyone feels welcome, everyone feels safe, everyone feels at home. We will need all people from across our nation to be a part of that process, and we cannot retreat into our separate quarters if we have any hope of accomplishing this task. We must meet in the middle, and we start through prayer and song.
It pains me that our decisions have caused such anguish. But, if these gestures serve as a catalyst for bridging the divide then, God willing, we are on the right path.”
–The Very Rev. Randolph “Randy” Marshall Hollerith