The service was organized by the National Council of the Churches (USA) and the Washington Interfaith Staff Community.
Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, reflected that the mob violence that overtook the US Capitol on 6 January was shocking, adding that many are grateful to members of Congress, their staff, and all who work at and protect the US Capitol.
“We offer this service as a time for all of us to pause and give thanks to you,” said Winkler. “We are concerned for you, your families, for our nation, and for the days ahead.”
Winkler said he has fielded many messages from around the world expressing a strong desire for the United States to regain its footing. “Perhaps this is an opportunity for a new beginning,” he said. “Last night, one church leader said to me, ‘People must be motivated to change before they change.’ ”
Rev. Ted Penton, secretary of the Office of Justice and Ecology at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, shared a prayer written by two young Jesuits preparing for priesthood.
“Guide us with your wisdom that we may avoid false and demonizing narratives,” Penton prayed. “Deliver us from despair.”
Expressions of solidarity also went out for those who reside and lead in Washington, DC. Dr Nisa Muhammad, assistant dean for Religious Life at Howard University, prayed: “We lament for the city leadership, called upon to show strength in a time of turmoil. There is no might or power greater than God.”
Sr Quincy Howard, coordinating director of advocacy for Faithful Democracy, prayed: “God of righteousness, strengthen our national resolve to replace the evils of our racist legacy with a zeal to realize the potential of our ideals.”
Rev. Adam Taylor, president of Sojourners, reflected: “I’m hopeful because I still believe that our nation can and must be remade and reborn.”
Part of being transformed is accepting and embracing the truth, said Maggie Siddiqui, director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress. “God, grant that our eyes be open to the truth, now and forever,” she prayed. “God, grant that we may all be free from violence.”
Those who attended pledged to continue praying for the nation’s leaders and those who support them. “We pledge to you that we shall continue to pray for you and do every good thing, act in every good way that we can, to sustain and support you,” said Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the California-Nevada Conference, United Methodist Church. “We do not lose hope.”