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“Washington is a town where power is relentlessly pursued, yet even here we acknowledge a higher power to which we must call for an answer,” Mr. Dole said, adding: “This is most emphatically a time to heal.”

President Bush sent welcoming greetings to the participants. “As pastors and community leaders, you are part of the armies of compassion who help to change lives, one heart and one soul at a time. I applaud your dedication and your commitment to serving others. Laura joins me in sending our best wishes,” Mr. Bush said in a letter read by Arizona state Sen. Mark Anderson, a Republican.

Speakers included the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, senior pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the District and former D.C. delegate to Congress; Robin Read Brunelli, president of the National Foundation for Women Legislators; the Rev. Peter Marshall; New York-based clergymen the Rev. Floyd Flake, also a former congressman, and the Rev. Lonnie McLeod; Luis Cortes, president of faith-based Nueva Esperanza Inc., in Philadelphia; the Rev. Helen Fleming of Eastwick, Penn.; and Father Masoud Farid Hatoum of Nazareth, Israel.