PRESS RELEASE from Presidential Inaugural Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           
Sunday, January 11, 2009       
Contact: PIC Communications Office
Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Selected to Give Sermon at the National Prayer Service

Washington, D.C. - The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced today that General Minister and President Dr. Sharon E. Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been selected to give the sermon at the National Prayer Service on Wednesday, January 21st.  The National Prayer Service will be held at the National Cathedral at the conclusion of Inaugural activities and will celebrate America's diversity of faith.  Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins will be the first woman to deliver the sermon at this traditional Inaugural event.

"I am truly honored to speak at this historic occasion," said Reverend Watkins. "My prayer when I preach is always that God will use me to bring a Gospel message that is uplifting and appropriately challenging to those who hear it.  I hope that my message will call us to believe in something bigger than ourselves and remind us to reach out to all of our neighbors to build communities of possibility."

Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins has served as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada since 2005.  She is the first woman to hold this position.  As General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she is the general pastor of the 700,000-member denomination.  As General President, she is the chief executive officer for the denomination, responsible for overseeing the work of the church's various structures.  She is serving a six-year term that extends through 2011.

Dr. Watkins has an extensive background of service both in this country and abroad. She is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, and serves on the WCC's Permanent Committee for Consensus and Collaboration.  In 2006, she was a representative at the World Council's General Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  She is the former pastor of Disciples Christian Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where she served for eight years.  Reverend Watkins holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Phillips Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from the Yale Divinity School, and a Bachelor's Degree in French and Economics from Butler University.   She is married to Reverend Dr. Richard (Rick) H. Lowery, Interim Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky.  They have two children, Bethany and Christopher. 

The National Prayer Service, a tradition dating back to George Washington, will include prayers, readings and hymns delivered by religious leaders spanning a diverse array of faiths.  More information about the event will be forthcoming.                                                                                         

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