As the United States struggles through a time of turbulence and tension, Washington National Cathedral will host a national interfaith prayer service on Sunday, Nov. 1 – two days before Election Day – featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other spiritual leaders.
The service, titled “Holding Onto Hope: A national service for healing and wholeness,” will be livestreamed on The Episcopal Church’s Facebook page in English and Spanish from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.
“In the midst of pandemic, racial reckoning and a historic election, the livestreamed service will gather Americans for prayer, song, lament, hope and a call to love God and neighbor,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation.
Curry will offer “wisdom and encouragement,” along with the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, and Valarie Kaur, a Sikh filmmaker and speaker. Curry will also preach that same day at the cathedral’s All Saints’ Day Eucharist at 11 a.m.
In statements to Episcopal News Service, Curry and the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, spoke of the renewed importance of the cathedral as a space for Americans to unite in the presence of God, even if they are physically separated. Washington Bishop Mariann Budde will lead the service along with Hollerith and Spellers.
“Washington National Cathedral, for our nation, has been a place to gather for prayer: at the death of presidents, after terrible tragedies like 9/11, and in moments of joy and hope for our nation and our world,” Curry told Episcopal News Service. “As the people of the United States cast their votes for the office of president and many other offices throughout the land, we gather to pray to the God who is the Creator of us all. We pray, in a sense, on our knees before our God that we might learn to stand holding each other’s hands as the children of God.”
Hollerith emphasized that the service is intended to foster a spirit of healing and unity and is nonpartisan.
“Our country is facing unprecedented challenges, no matter where you live or who you vote for,” Hollerith said. “This cathedral was built to bring the country together at moments of national significance, and what a significant moment this is. … We are not praying for one side to win, or for the other side to lose. We are praying that God will bring healing to our relationships, healing to this pandemic, and healing to our weary hearts.”
The service will be comprised of three “movements” focusing on reckoning, lament and hope, said Jerusalem Greer, The Episcopal Church’s staff officer for evangelism, that will help Americans process the crises facing the nation, including COVID-19, racism, violence and climate change, offering a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prayers of lament will be offered by front-line responders like nurses, teachers and grocery store workers. Prayers for the nation will come from spiritual leaders including Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, and Eboo Patel, who served on President Barack Obama’s inaugural Faith Council. Music will be offered by the National Cathedral and the Coro de la Catedral of Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The service will also coincide with the launch of a live prayer hotline, developed in partnership with the church innovation lab TryTank, which will continue through Election Day. Trained chaplains will be available to pray with callers in English or Spanish about anything that’s on their minds.