The economic downturn reaches Washington National Cathedral

The Lead alerted me to a story in today’s Washington Post. It seems that Washington National Cathedral is undertaking some severe budget cuts. Among the casualties will be Cathedral College (the College of Preachers).

Historic programs are facing trims, too. The cathedral plans to shut an adjacent building that houses Cathedral College — a closing date has not yet been set — and suspend its 84-year-old residential program for visiting preachers until it can be revived in better times, [Dean Sam] Lloyd said.

When cutbacks like this happen, people usually start to line up to blame the leader, especially after an expansion program. I don’t know much about the Cathedral and its recent history. I know that when I was a parishioner at Trinity, Copley Square in Boston, my impression was the Sam Lloyd was a good leader. So my assumption is that he’s a good leader at the Cathedral.

Mostly I hope the College of Preachers finds new life. The state of preaching in the Episcopal Church is not good these days, so any opportunity to improve preaching is very much needed! I haven’t had a chance to go to the College, but my colleages who have been offer universally good reports.

As for the Cathedral itself, it’s got to be a tough place. There are numerous constituencies, all of whom — in Washington power-and-entitlement mode — must surely demand that their vision be top priority. At the same time, there are mutually exclusive and competing requirements. They have to be the Church of the Establishment (think presidential funerals) and the House of Prayer for All People. They have to fit in with Virginia low-church Episcopalianism whilst carrying out grand liturgies befitting a Cathedral. They have to accommodate busloads of tourists and provide sustenance for their regular congregation. They have to welcome tourists and be a place of sacred pilgrimage. I don’t envy anyone setting the direction of the Cathedral.

So if they’re hitting a bump in the road, it’s sad but not surprising. I hope folks will kick in some cash soon, because their offerings are important to Washington, the the nation, and to the world. Hmm. Maybe I should go give them some money. Maybe you should too.

Image from AIA.

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2 Responses

  1. Peter Carey says:

    Thanks for this post – I am a big fan of the Cathedral, and I had heard good things about Dean Lloyd.

    I am looking forward to more explanation and analysis beyond the “times are hard” responses from leaders there.

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