From The Washington Post: 

The Rev. William J. Barber II, a fiery North Carolina preacher and anti-poverty crusader, will deliver the homily at the official inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, the inaugural committee announced Tuesday.

Barber, who is one of the best-known faces of religious political activism on the left, is one of several Black clergy selected to bless and speak at inaugural week events for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.

Yet his role is especially prominent because the Thursday service at the cathedral has by far the longest religious content during inaugural week, traditionally more than an hour long and rich with faith leaders from many backgrounds.

While powerfully symbolic, other events are brief. They begin Tuesday when D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the first Black U.S. cardinal, will give the invocation at a covid-19 memorial at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with Biden and Harris. That service, which is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m., will feature 400 lights around the Reflecting Pool in D.C. to commemorate the nearly 400,000 who have died in the country of the coronavirus. Other cities and towns around the country are expected to participate with various kinds of light memorials.

At the memorial service, gospel singer Yolanda Adams will sing “Hallelujah,” and Michigan singer Lori Marie Key will perform “Amazing Grace.”

At Wednesday’s inauguration, the invocation will be delivered by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a longtime Biden family friend and former president of Georgetown University. O’Donovan performed the funeral for Biden’s eldest son, Beau Biden. Delaware Rev. Silvester Beaman, from an African Methodist Episcopal church in Wilmington, will deliver the benediction.

An invocation is usually said at the start of an event, asking for holy intercession, a divine request for help and support. A benediction is a closing prayer at the end of a public event.

Finally, on Thursday, the interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral, which will be virtual this year, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., and will be live-streamed.The tradition of an interfaith service goes back to the inauguration of George Washington.

The AP is also reporting the president-elect will be attending Mass Wednesday morning:

Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain on Tuesday retweeted a post that said Biden had quietly extended invitations to Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to accompany him to a Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

Spokespeople for Pelosi, Schumer and McConnell confirm they are accompanying Biden. Representatives for McCarthy have no immediate comment.

Sen. Chris Coons tells CNN the church service is “an important part of respecting tradition.”

Photo: St. Matthew’s Cathedral by David Monack, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license

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