It was only his fourth day on the job, and new dean of Washington National Cathedral, the Rev. Gary Hall, was already fielding questions from hundreds of religion reporters as members of Religion Newswriters Association conference toured the refurbished Washington, D.C. Episcopal church on Wednesday (Oct. 4).
"What attracted me to the Washington National Cathedral is there's no place like it in the United States," Hall told reporters. "It has a history as a place of intersection of religion and public life as well as an interfaith place of worship. So we have a unique convening power here." Hall's installation service will be on Oct. 27.
He said the National Cathedral has been busy fixing and stabilizing its structure since the 2011 earthquake, and it's now sound and safe.
Hall said the National Cathedral has many of the same challenges as other Episcopal churches nationwide in "we cannot be a stayed establishment church and still flourish," he said.
The new dean said the National Cathedral will begin to offer more programs that will "enhance the common good and seek ways that the National Cathedral can partner with Washington D.C. nonprofits to do transformative ministries." The Cathedral is planning an interfaith summit on the experience of American Muslims and will dedicate a new carving in a foyer archway of Mother Teresa on Oct. 11.
"For the first 100 years, the Cathedral was about getting itself built," Hall said, and now the church of presidential funerals is about growing its outreach and being a more active member of the national religious community.