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State to be honored in nation#039;s capital

Alabama residents are invited to attend a special celebration of all things Alabama at a special worship service at the Washington National Cathedral on March 16. Pilgrims from the state and natives now living in the nation's capital will gather at the national house of prayer for this event.

As part of its national ministry, the Washington National Cathedral offers prayers for the people and leaders of each state annually. The Cathedral honors each state with a major observance once every four years.

&uot;The National Cathedral Association invites all from Alabama to participate in this special day,&uot; said Vanessa Andrews, director of the National Cathedral Association, which is organizing the event. &uot;Since 1899, when the association was founded, we have recognized that the strength of the National Cathedral is the citizens from across our nation who helped build this place, and who enliven it daily by worshiping here.&uot;

The Right Rev. Henry Parsley Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, will serve as chief celebrant. The Rev. James L. Evans, founding president of the Interfaith Alliance of Alabama and pastor of Crosscreek Baptist Church of Pelham, will preach the sermon.

&uot;The liturgy for the day is crafted by the invited celebrant, often a bishop in that state, and often features speakers, choirs and music that is representative of the state,&uot; said Rev. Marty Connor of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Troy. &uot;Bishop Parsley is a wonderful bishop and a fine speaker. I have been very impressed by him on the several times we have met.

It is a particular and wonderful privilege for him to lead worship in our national cathedral.&uot;

More than 100 Alabama natives and pilgrims from the state are expected at the service. Sen. Richard Shelby is scheduled to participate in the service, and Alabama attendees will also bear communion elements and offer up gifts to the poor. The state flag will be placed on the chancel steps in the cathedral for the following week to further mark Alabama State Day.

&uot;The national cathedral is a unique church in that it is both a national church for all Americans and an Episcopal Cathedral that serves as the diocesan cathedral for the Diocese of Washington and as the official church of the Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, whose offices are in New York City,&uot; Connor said. &uot;It is the focus of much ecumenical ministry in Washington, D.C. with an impact that reaches across the country.&uot;

Following the service, the National Cathedral Association and the Auburn Alumni Association will host a reception for all visitors.

Afterwards, docents will lead guests on a special tour of the cathedral, the sixth-largest in the world. The tour will highlight references to Alabama, including the Cathedral Columbarium where Helen Keller is interred, and the Humanitarian Bay stained glass window that depicts Dr. George Washington Carver.

&uot;As a national house of prayer for all people, the cathedral opens its doors to all,&uot; Andrews said. &uot;On March 16, we especially welcome Alabama citizens and churches as we honor their contributions to our nation. Alabama State Day will be an energetic celebration of the role the state plays in the life of the cathedral and our nation.&uot;

Stephen Stetson can be reached at stephen.stetson @troymessenger.com.