St. Ambrose Cathedral in downtown Des Moines was filled with prayer and song as more than 600 people gathered with Governor-elect Branstad and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Reynolds for the interfaith Service of Dedication to the People of Iowa last night.
The service which began at 7 p.m. was led by 12 religious leaders. Worshipers were greeted as they entered the 120-year old church building by a selection of bell choir music performed by the Westminster Chimes from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines and with choral music performed by 28 members of the Drake Choir from Drake University.
After Bishop Richard E. Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines greeted the assembly, Cantor Linda Shivers of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Des Moines led the prayer service with the Shehecheyanu, a blessing from the Talmud used for special occasions, and a reading sung in Hebrew about service to others and God providence from Isaiah 58:6-11.
Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American proclaimed the Good Samaritan passage from the Gospel of Luke in the Christian Scriptures.
Msgr. Frank Bognanno, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Des Moines, began his sermon by saying that the inaugural prayer service was an example of Americans exercising their free right of religious expression and he commended both Branstad and Reynolds for choosing to begin their administration by gathering people in faith.
“Great leadership requires great wisdom,” Bognanno said defining wisdom as a blend of both faith and reason. Calling reason the “art of the possible,” Bognanno went on to explain that the politician who governs with faith and reason has an open mind to accepting the truth of God.
“Every government must ask who or what is a human being,” Bognanno said citing examples of godless societies and governments without faith, such as those that have followed the teaching of Marx and Nazi German. “Without faith we’re like a car on a dark road without headlights,” said Bognanno who had been the Branstad family pastor for more than a decade when they were members of St. Augustin Parish in Des Moines.
The sermon referenced the founding fathers’ faith, a faith which was personal, Bognanno said, but not private and which they made public in the Declaration of Independence and in their work during the Continental Congress. Calling Branstad a “servant leader” Bognanno said the former four-term governor models his faith to those in his administration.
Following a congregational hymn set to the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Lord, Make us Servants of our Peace, the governor-elect came forward, accompanied by his wife Chris, to make a public profession of his faith. Led in an interrogative style of prayer, Branstad asked for God’s blessings on himself, his family, his administration and his tenure in service. In his role as governor he committed himself to service of the poor, the defenseless and to God’s plan for creation. Thanking the clergy and judicial heads for participating in the service, Branstad said, “We need to recognize our responsibility to use reason and faith in serving the people of Iowa, and I humbly accept that.”
Then the lieutenant governor-elect, accompanied by her husband, Kevin, came forward and was led by Pastor Chuck DeVos of Life Point Assembly of God in Osceola in a similar profession of faith and a request for God’s blessings as she committed herself to the duties of her newly elected role.
A responsorial prayer was led by the participating clergy members who asked for blessings on the people and state of Iowa, on the members of the judiciary, the members of the Iowa legislature, for the victims of the shooting in Tucson and for members of the Armed Services, for those who live in the “margins of society,” those whose lives are dedicated to community and charitable service to the community and the poor, refugees and immigrants, and all those in public service.
America, the Beautiful was sung as the concluding hymn of the hour-long service which was followed by a reception at the Pastoral Center.
Photo from Diocese of Des Moines
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