The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., and an author of popular books on Christian faith, has been chosen to give the sermon at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service on Tuesday.
Follow this link to register for the National Cathedral live video streaming of this service: http://inauguration2013.nationalcathedral.org/wnc/inauguration/
Mr. Hamilton recently was named the Reporter’s 2012 United Methodist of the Year for his contributions as pastor, teacher, denominational leader and author.
Reached by email about his inaugural service invitation, Mr. Hamilton said: ”I was really surprised and humbled to be asked. Then for two nights I could not sleep thinking about preaching with the president and vice president on the front row and 2,000 of our nation’s leaders behind them.”
Mr. Hamilton said he got the invitation about two weeks ago, from Joshua DuBois, director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Obama White House.
He will have 15 minutes for the sermon.
“My assistant says I can’t even introduce a sermon in 15 minutes, but I’ve timed the message, and if I stick to the script it will be exactly 15 minutes,” he said.
Asked what he’ll preach, Mr. Hamilton said: ”In the light of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation this month, I’m focusing on the Bible’s great emancipation story—the Exodus, and three leadership lessons from Moses. Keeping the rest under wraps!”
Mr. Hamilton said he is aware that he’ll be representing the UMC, which has about 7.6 million members in the United States and about 12 million worldwide.
“I hope that I can represent Christ, the United Methodist Church and the Church of the Resurrection well,” he said. “Any time I speak or write I am hopeful that I represent the United Methodist Church well and that those not affiliated with a church might say, ‘Hearing that guy, maybe we should visit a United Methodist church!’”
Bishop Scott Jones of the UMC’s Great Plains Area is Mr. Hamilton’s bishop, and was among those cheered by his selection as inaugural service preacher.
“United Methodism at its best has much to offer America today, and particularly in this time of polarization,” Bishop Jones said. “We have important problems to face as a country, and we need the right spiritual approach to work together. Adam Hamilton is our church at its best, and I am glad he has been asked to make that kind of spiritual contribution to the leaders of our country as we begin a new presidential and congressional term.”
Mr. Hamilton, 48, began the Church of the Resurrection in 1990, in a funeral home, and it has grown to some 16,000 members, with average weekly worship attendance of 8,600 at multiple sites.
He’s a regular speaker at UMC annual conferences and leadership events, and took a leading role in the 2012 General Conference, as speaker on behalf of denominational reform and as a delegate.
Mr. Hamilton’s books, published by the UMC’s Abingdon Press, have sold more than 1 million copies.
While many of his books are devotional in nature, hitting such topics as forgiveness, he’s not afraid to address controversial topics. One of his more popular titles is Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics.
At the 2012 General Conference, he was the co-author of an unsuccessful “agree to disagree” petition regarding homosexuality. The UMC’s official position is that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, though many laity, clergy and even some bishops have publicly opposed that stance.
Mr. Hamilton has done a blog post about his invitation to preach at the inaugural event. He also sent an email message to his congregation, which reads in part:
“Someone asked me this week, `Why did the White House choose you to give the message?’ I’ve been asking the same question and here’s my best guess: You as a congregation are known nationally for bringing people together – left and right, liberals and conservatives. You are known for both a passionate personal faith and a passion for social justice. You also are clear that everyone is welcome at Church of the Resurrection. And your work with area schools in Kansas City is a model for how people of faith can make a difference in their communities. I think my invitation to speak is an affirmation of who you are as a congregation.”
Here’s a press release with details about the event, including other speakers:
Interfaith leaders to participate in national prayer service
Washington, D.C.—Washington National Cathedral has announced the participants in the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service scheduled for Tuesday, January 22, at 10:30 am. The interfaith service, including voices of faith from several Christian denominations, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, will bring Americans together to pray for the nation and for the second term of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The service, which is for invited guests, will also be webcast live at www.nationalcathedral.org.
“We are so blessed to be joined by leaders of many faiths for this prayer service to lift up our nation and our president,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “To have represented the diverse faith perspectives of America within the Cathedral’s nave is a sign of the distinct role that people of faith have to play in our national discourse and policy decisions.”
Joining Dean Hall in welcoming the president and invited guests will be the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of Washington. The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will participate as well, offering a prayer for the nation.
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, has been selected to offer the sermon. It will be Hamilton’s first sermon delivered from the Cathedral’s historic Canterbury Pulpit.
Musicians participating in the service include the “President’s Own” Brass Ensemble of the U.S. Marine Band, and the Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Canon Michael McCarthy. Soloist Wintley Phipps and Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel Choir, who both participated in the 2009 prayer service, will sing anthems.
Beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, presidential inaugural prayer services have taken place at the Cathedral. That tradition has been more recently consistent since President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985. The exception was President Bill Clinton, who chose Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, the historic black church in downtown Washington, for both of his inaugural prayer services. Washington National Cathedral has also been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 presidents of the United States who have died since the Cathedral’s founding.