Over the weekend, the Washington Post carried a piece about Washington’s National Cathedral. It seems that a few years ago the cathedral was given a $7 million bequest. The dean used the funds to expand all sorts of services, but now the money has run out, and new funding never materialized to support the expanded projects. So the cathedral is cutting back on programs and laying off staff.
Nothing particularly noteworthy here, except, perhaps, for the types of projects the dean used the bequest to launch. From the Post piece:
[Dean Samuel] Lloyd has used bequest funds to help launch an array of new programs with international, national and local reach that have given the cathedral a more activist bent.
“We came to believe that because we are the nation’s church . . . certainly at critical moments in our life, we’re then granted an opportunity to be a big public voice — a public megaphone — for a thoughtful, generous, respectful Christian faith that has important things to say in the public conversations of the day,” said Lloyd, who came from Boston’s Trinity Church to the cathedral as its 10th dean.
As part of its new international outreach, the cathedral has opened the Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, which describes itself as focusing on poverty, social justice and peacemaking initiatives around the globe.
The cathedral has held interfaith conferences on global warming and started an effort to reach out to clerics in Iran. It raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in participants for an interfaith conference on women and global poverty in April that featured former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell and former Irish president Mary Robinson. Lloyd has also launched a Sunday forum that has brought in high-profile guests such as Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor and best-selling author, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Cathedral leaders say the series attracts an average of 400 to 500 people each session.
The piece goes on to list some of the programs which are being shuttered—they include building the church’s congregation, the church’s famous greenhouse, and a “Family Saturday” initiative, which brought familes with young children to the cathedral. One can’t say for sure from the piece, but the impression is given that the more “activist” programs will not be cut.