We just launched Introducing the Washington National Cathedral with Randy Hollerith For Individuals and For Groups.
The Washington National Cathedral holds unique roles both in the United States and in The Episcopal Church. Commissioned by Congress in 1893, the Cathedral was intended as a place devoted to “religion, education, and charity” — a potentially confusing mission statement for a government-founded institution in a country that separates church and state.
Today, the roles of the National Cathedral remain complex. It is no longer funded in any way by the federal government, but it still holds a traditional Inaugural Prayer Service after a President has been sworn into office, as well as holding many state memorial services and funerals and events commemorating national days of celebration and mourning. It is an Episcopal cathedral and the seat of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, but its mission statement begins with its promise of “serving as a house of prayer for all people and a spiritual home for the nation.” This vision for the church means that it takes an extremely ecumenical and inclusive approach, reaching out to the nation with interfaith services, concerts and other events designed to move people into spiritual contemplation. One goal important to the cathedral is to reach out across religious divides to try to accommodate people of many faiths.
In this course, The Right Rev. Randy Hollerith, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, explains the multiple roles that the church plays in our church and in our culture. He discusses the history and physical features of the Cathedral and describes his vision for the Cathedral as it continues to grow and change over time. “The great thing about a cathedral is that it is never finished,” Dean Hollerith says. “It’s always being created. It’s always being added to. …This is a place that is always changing and adapting.” This course is designed to give you insight into the changes that have taken place in the past and the new steps that the Cathedral’s leaders hope to take as the Washington National Cathedral advances further into the 21st century.
Image 1: Photograph of the Washington National Cathedral. Carrol M. Highsmith. Date Unknown. Public Domain.
Image 2: Photograph of the Interior of the Washington National Cathedral. Mina Elias. 23 August 2010. Creative Commons.
Image 3: Photograph of “Ex Nihilo” sculpture over central door of the Cathedral’s west facade. Tim Nelson. 29 December 2011. Creative Commons.