Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama Names My Pope to Lead National Prayer Service

From the Presidential Inaugural Committee, General Minister and President Dr. Sharon E. Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been selected to give the sermon at the National Prayer Service on Wednesday, January 21st. The National Prayer Service celebrates America’s diversity of faith and, albeit a Christian, if you want someone to honestly celebrate diversity, then pick a Disciple of Christ.

Here's what the NYTimes said:
...Ms. Watkins is not well known nationally. She came to the attention of Mr. Obama at a meeting he held during the campaign last summer to introduce himself to a politically and theologically diverse group of ministers. At that closed-door meeting, some of the conservative ministers bluntly questioned Mr. Obama on certain issues. Ms. Watkins was asked to give the closing prayer.

“Sharon was able to conclude in a way that tied everyone together,” said the Rev. Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, who was at the meeting. “It left folks on a buoyant note, with a degree of hope and optimism that we could find some common ground.”
Of course, this is also the exact thing that sometimes leaves me exasperated. The NYTimes notes her oppostition to torture. Our General Assembly passed a resolution condemning torture at our Ft. Worth assembly in 2008. But when she speaks to the denomination about torture, it isn't her opposition, but rather her desire for unity in our diversity of opinions on torture. Blech!

But such is the nature of our denomination. As Dr. Watkins puts it, “We really emphasize the responsibility as well as the freedom of individuals within the church to study Scripture to prayerfully pursue their own spiritual journey,” Ms. Watkins said. “That means we end up being incredibly diverse politically, theologically and socially."

And that makes us a pretty tough group to speak to and for. So while I don't see us taking a stand, for example, on gay marriage as a denomination under her leadership, she will help us to engage the conversation, engage one another, and guide us in finding common ground. She'll challenge those of us who say "you just can't talk to those people." And she'll prove you wrong.

So I'm thrilled that the leader of my denomination has been selected to deliver the message at the inaugural prayer service. As a woman, I'm thrilled that she is the first woman to have this honor. And I'm proud - if not relieved - that our little liberal-leaning denomination might continue to influence our new President.

TAGS: , ,

No comments: