January 11th, 2009
02:15 PM ET
14 years ago

First woman to lead inaugural national prayer service

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/11/art.sharonwatkins.disciplesorg.jpg caption="Rev. Sharon Watkins has been selected to lead the sermon at the inaugural National Prayer Service."]

(CNN) - Rev. Sharon Watkins will deliver the sermon at the traditional National Prayer Service on January 21 - a day after Barack Obama is sworn in as president, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Sunday.

Watkins - the general minister and president of the 700,000-member Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - will be the first woman to deliver the sermon at the traditional inaugural event, which takes place at the National Cathedral in northwest Washington, D.C.

"I am truly honored to speak at this historic occasion. ... I hope that my message will call us to believe in something bigger than ourselves and remind us to reach out to all of our neighbors to build communities of possibility," she said in a press release.

The National Prayer Service, according to the inaugural committee, is a a tradition dating back to the nation's first president. The service includes prayers and hymns delivered by various religious leaders.

Filed under: Inauguration
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. No Hillary = No Obama

    This must be to offset the criticism of Obama's pick of that fat cat bigot, Rick Warren.

    January 11, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Here we go again

    Apparently she does not support gay marriage...

    January 11, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Enough is enough

    There should be no national prayer service. Period.

    It is time that those of us who seek a return to the separation of church and state stand up and speak out against this ridiculous national prayer "tradition", which has its roots in 20th centurny fundamentalism, NOT constitutional democracy.

    January 11, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Ho Chi Daddy

    I'm truly surprised that there hasn't been an immediate outcry from some group about this selection. "Her hair's too long". "She has a funny smile that may be offensive to someone." "Her estrogen level isn't high enough!" Everybody wants to complain about something but offer no solutions. Instead of crying about who's giving what prayer and when they do it, we need to begin thinking about how to fix the near incomprehensible mess Bush has left in his wake. It's truly amazing how much damage one man can inflict and then have that same man be dismissive of the carnage.

    January 11, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Vinnie

    I can't believe that we even have a prayer service. What an offense.

    January 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Carol, California

    Why is religion, any religion, part of the inaugural ceremony? Why is a presentation by Rev. Watkins and Pastor Warren part of a governmental function? Separation of Church and State – keep your religious beliefs to yourself, and keep them out of government.

    January 11, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Joyce Becker


    January 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Janet-NY

    God bless all Americans.

    January 11, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "National Prayer Service?" Why in the world do we have to clutter things up with endless superstitious blather?

    Gods and the scientific method are both the result of ignorance–but the scientific method actually works in alleviating that. Isn't about time the human race leaves behind the silly mumbo-jumbo? And, while we're at it, all the hatred and divisiveness religion brings?

    January 11, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. A Woman In California For Obama

    Personally, I have no faith in ministers of any kind although I am a Christian. However, I'm sure she will do a good job.

    January 11, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. S Callahan


    January 11, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Patrick

    This shows how far we've come since the inception this secular nation, not one that is founded on "christian principles". National Prayer Service? Forget negotiations and intelligence and national security, just pray and all will be well, like it was in the dark ages.

    January 11, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. Dante in Madison, WI

    "National Prayer Service"?!? How is this not illegal? Seriously–this is like a blatant violation of the Constitution and separation of Church and State!

    January 11, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. ga.

    please put prayer back in our schools, if you look back to all the terrible things that have happened since it was taken out, it would take a complete idiot to not see how things started getting worse for our children after it was taken out.

    January 11, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Ernie in LA

    Prayer service, OMG no. This is going to offend a lot of people. Should we be concerned or what?

    January 11, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    I am a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination – it speaks of inclusion, peace, and understanding. Glad to hear about this, especially after Rick Warran.

    January 11, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. 30m-PA-voted Clinton then McCain

    Now that the Democratic Party got their first black candidate NOW they care about women. I think they lost all credibility when they threw Hillary under the bus.

    January 11, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. Obama is a Christian

    A regular churchgoer, or a beleiever in God, but does he (Obama) live like one, who is pleasing God, or just any other unbelievers??

    January 11, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  19. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    The truth is sure coming out now.

    January 11, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. tryjesus

    It's fantastic that a woman of God will be LEADING the sermon at the Inaugural National Prayer Service! She will be an excellent example for other women in the Body called upon by the Holy Spirit to serve, despite those who think the Spirit cannot and would not call upon a woman in a "leadership role" for Christ.

    Change has come indeed. God Bless Obama. Praise God! : )

    January 11, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. danny

    she looks like a tard

    January 11, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |