The Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said he plans to use his sermons Sunday to address gun control, which the Episcopal Church strongly supports.
National Cathedral officials announced that Hall will preach on the topic at the 8:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. services in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre , the second-deadliest shooting event in U.S. history.
“The horrific shooting of children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, is a tragedy that elicits both our grief and our moral outrage on behalf of the victims and their families,” Hall said in a statement. “In a political climate unwilling to address the realities of gun violence in America, a wide range of faith traditions, including the Episcopal Church, has strongly advocated gun control for several decades.”
The planned sermons follow an outpouring of support for gun control or for the victims at local events and vigils in the in the Washington area. Advocacy groups - the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Citizens for Safety - gathered at separate events outside the White House Friday evening.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Society of Washington, D.C., held a more apolitical vigil near the Washington Monument Friday. About 30 people, including Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), mourned the victims, said Brian Mahar, the society’s president.
“Connecticut has a vibrant community in DC and we felt compelled to bring that community together to help each through this tragedy and show our support for the victims and their families,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Newtown is like any of our home towns and Sandy Hook Elementary is like any school we attended. That’s what makes this hit so close to home for members of the Connecticut Society.”
Mahar said the society is looking into collecting donations for the victims’ families or informing members on how they can help the residents of their home state. He said the society would have more information in a few days.
But on Sunday, the public eye locally could be on Hall, who became the new dean of the church in July and immediately wrote an op-ed piece on the future of National Cathedral, saying the church “will expand its role as a convener of conversations and developer of projects concerning our national and interfaith life.”
Sunday’s sermons will put National Cathedral in the middle of the ongoing debate on gun control.
He added that National Cathedral will “pray for the victims, their families, the assailant and the survivors,” and that the church “will work with our national leaders to enact more effective gun control measures.”
“As a worshiping community, we invite all who grieve over this shooting to join us in prayer, worship and action in the days ahead,” Hall said.