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Religious leaders pray for Bush at inaugural service

WASHINGTON (BP)–President George W. Bush, his family and other government leaders gathered Jan. 21 for a traditional prayer service on the day after his second inauguration.

A diverse group of religious leaders prayed for the president and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the country, at the National Cathedral in Washington during the 55th inaugural prayer service. Clergy participants included a Jewish rabbi and evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Greek Orthodox leaders.

In his prayer, evangelist Billy Graham affirmed that God in His providence had granted Bush and Cheney a second term.

“The next four years are hidden from us, but they’re not hidden from You,” Graham prayed. “You know the challenges and opportunities they will face. Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and your presence always.

“Renew our vision, restore our faith, rekindle our desire to love and to serve all humanity,” Graham, 86, prayed. In declining health, Graham used a walker in moving from his seat to the lectern.

Methodist pastor Mark Craig told the audience the United States has a hopeful future. From a national viewpoint, America’s future is hopeful because it is a country of sacrifice, compassion and faith. Craig, senior minister of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, said God is the eventual reason America’s days ahead are hopeful.

“In the most difficult of times, God has a way of opening a new door,” Craig said. “In the most difficult of times, God has a way of showing us a new path and a new direction, and ultimately that’s why we have a future, and that future is good, and that future is full of hope.”

He said, “We believe that in difficult times we will persevere. We believe that in difficult times God will lift us up and give us the hand we need to be victorious in our lives as individuals and as a nation.”

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang “How Great Thou Art” and “Ave Maria.” In addition to traditional hymns, the congregation sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

On the morning of the inauguration, the president and his family, as well as others, attended a more private service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is across Lafayette Square from the White House.

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