Disciples News Service

General Minister And President Preaches At National Prayer Service

Last Updated May 2009

(Washington, D.C. - DNS - Jan. 22, 2009) - People from a variety of faith perspectives have reacted enthusiastically to General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins' sermon at the National Prayer Service in Washington D.C. The sermon took place on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration of the nation's 44th president.

Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins preaching at the National Prayer Service. Photo by Donovan MarksDisciples and faith leaders from around the globe have congratulated Watkins through e-mails, web postings and phone calls. "How inspired I was by your sermon," said Judy Furber, one e-mail respondent. "It touched my heart and my mind profoundly."

Watkins spoke at the National Cathedral before a crowd of 3,000 that included newly elected President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Watkins was the first woman selected to give the historic address, a tradition that dates back to President George Washington. She was chosen to deliver the sermon by Obama, the nation's first African-American president. Cynthia L. Hale, Senior Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Decatur, Ga., gave the scripture at the service.

Charles A. Howell III, a member of Woodmont Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nashville, Tenn., said he heard both Sharon Watkins and Cynthia Hale speak and described both as terrific.

Over 3000 people attended the National Prayer Service - Copyright Getty ImagesThe service was carried live by several national news networks, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-Span. Watkins' sermon touched on several themes relating to both our country's civic and religious life. Her sermon was drawn in part from Isaiah 58:6-12, where God declares to the people of God that appropriate worship is through practicing justice. Watkins also quoted from Matthew 22:36-40, where Jesus gives the greatest commandments of all: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.

In a portion of her sermon, Watkins also related a story attributed to Cherokee wisdom about the two wolves that struggle inside each one of us. "One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self-pity, fear..." she preached… "The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love... Looking directly at President Obama, who was sitting in the front pew, Watkins said, "We need you to feed the good wolf within you, to listen to the better angels of your nature, and by your example encourage us to do the same."

Watch Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins Preach at the National Prayer Service.

Watch Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Atlanta, Ga., read the scripture during the National Prayer Service.

Read the transcript of Dr. Watkins' sermon, "Harmonies of Liberty."