- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009

Four Episcopalians and three Jews lead the list of religious figures selected to give sermons, prayers, Scripture readings and blessings at the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral.

The invitation-only service Wednesday morning, to be attended by the new president and vice president plus members of Congress, the Supreme Court and hundreds of foreign diplomats, will be built around themes of “tolerance, unity and understanding,” according to a press statement released Friday.

Several groups, including Buddhists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Salvation Army and Mormons, were left out entirely.

The Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, will welcome attendees to the event, followed by the invocation of Washington Episcopal Bishop John B. Chane.

The Rev. Otis Moss Jr., senior pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, will provide the opening prayer, followed by a prayer for government leaders delivered by the Rev. Andy Stanley, senior pastor of the 15,000-member North Point Community Church, a nondenominational congregation in Alpharetta, Ga.

Scripture readings will be provided by the Rev. Cynthia Hale, senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Atlanta; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; and Bishop Francisco Gonzalez, one of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s auxiliary bishops.

The Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, president of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) will deliver the sermon, the first woman to do so during an inaugural service.

Rabbi David Saperstein, executive director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the District, will recite a psalm.

“I am profoundly honored to be part of the inaugural activities at such an historic moment in our nation,” the rabbi said, adding that its participants represent a “rich, pluralistic tradition.”

The eight people who will give responsive prayers are:

cIngrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

• The Rev. Suzan Johnson-Cook, senior pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship in New York.

• Rabbi Jerome Epstein, director of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in New York.

• Canon Carol Wade, a cathedral official in charge of liturgy.

• Uma Mysorekar, president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America.

• The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a magazine and liberal evangelical network based in the District.

• Rabbi Haskal Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurunm in New York.

• The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. Mr. Caldwell gave the benedictions at the 2001 and 2005 Bush inaugurations.

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will deliver a prayer for the nation, followed by a closing prayer by Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori and a benediction by the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.

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