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Verity Jones, DisciplesWorld editor and publisher, will be in Washington D.C. covering Barack Obama's inauguration

Verity Jones

From Verity Jones, DisciplesWorld editor and publisher, who was at the inaugural prayer service yesterday:

I sat in the south transept balcony with other members of the press for Wednesday’s Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at which the Disciples General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins preached.  I had a grand view.  I’ve already written extensively about Watkins’ sermon.  You can read all about her profound and important message for the President and the nation’s leaders in my special report on  You can read the sermon itself online.

What doesn’t get said in the news story is how fabulous Waktins looked, how confidently she carried herself, how proud she made this Disciple feel about being a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) today. Her message was delivered pitch-perfect, a brilliant balance between her down-home Midwestern way of communicating and her gift for articulating a strong prophetic message for the people.  Watkins took the crowd immediately with that off the cuff remark about how nice the sermon’s salutation, “Mr. President,” sounded. Unafraid of the positive and warm response, she continued, “Let’s try this one on, Madame First Lady.” The delighted congregation applauded. Those of you who tuned in know what I’m talking about.

Interesting moments that may not have been on camera: The Clintons entered through the north transept of the Cathedral about 20 minutes before the service started.  All of the religious dignitaries were seated in the north transept, and the Clintons worked that crowd, like they always do, even shaking the hand of Rick Lowery, Sharon Watkins’ husband, before finding their seats. I had a nice view of that interchange, by the way.  Very touching.

Another: In worship services, apparently, the president and the vice president are not announced and no “hail to the chief” is played.  So… the Bidens, then the Obamas just kind of wandered in through the north transept just before the service began.  They were purposeful, no crowd working for these guys until after the service.  But still, it was almost like they were just arriving for church.  I liked that.

And another: Michelle Obama is very impressive. She did not hesitate to initiate the hand clapping during the congregational singing of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” The other five on her row – her husband, the Bidens, and the Clintons sang, but no hand-clapping. Hands properly folded in lap for those guys. And when she noticed they weren’t clapping, she didn’t stop. She is her own person and I think she will teach us all, women and men, children and adults, people of all colors, races, and backgrounds, a thing or two about the power of confidence.

Oh, and I wonder what her flat black shoes sparked in the fashion media. I tell you, if I danced at 10 balls in high heels all night like she did Tuesday, I’d be wearing house slippers the next day. Flat shoes were just right.

I suppose because this was church (even if worship with the president in a cavernous cathedral is not much like the kind of worship I usually engage), but I suppose that because this was church, I was even more moved today by these historic happenings than I was yesterday at the swearing-in ceremony. That a word from the church was heard today by this man and this administration at this memorable and remarkable moment, somehow filled me with peace for the day, and hope for the future. It was extraordinary, really.

Or it could’ve been that on Tuesday I was just much too cold to produce any tears of emotion!  But today, they flowed like a mighty river and ever flowing stream (a phrase we’ve heard so much this week, too much I wonder?).

A technical note:  I am no photographer and I know it, though I do try for the sake of DisciplesWorld. My camera was not working today. We had already made a plan that DisciplesWorld would use Associated Press photos of the service for our news report because I didn’t think I would have a good enough seat to see. But then I did, and I didn’t get photos of this amazing event.  I’m bummed, really disappointed. Anyway … AP photos and those taken by Wanda Bryant Wills of the Disciples’ Communication Ministries AFTER the service ended will be added to our story and Facebook page when they are available.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins

If you missed Disciples’ General Minister and President Sharon Watkins’ sermon at the inaugural service at the National Cathedral, here’s where you can download the text version. I haven’t checked for video clips yet – if you come across any, let me know.

Also, if you’re looking for the scripture text read by Cynthia Hale, you can download the full program (including all the prayers, hymns, and scripture texts) from the National Cathedral’s website.

UPDATE: I found a link to video…Danny Bradfield has a link to C-SPAN’s website on his blog. You can watch video of the service here.

UPDATE #2: Videos (in 2 parts on YouTube) – Part 1 and Part 2. The first cuts off a bit of the beginning but starts with the Cherokee story of the 2 wolves. (Thanks, Eduardo, for letting us know about this)

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