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Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today featuring a conversation on the history and grand treasures of the Washington National Cathedral. The Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, sits atop Mount Saint Alban, the highest point in Washington, D.C. In this episode, Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association, is joined by The Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the 11th Dean of Washington National Cathedral, and The Reverend Canon Jan Naylor Cope, D. Min., the Provost of Washington National Cathedral, to discuss the role the Cathedral has played in America’s history and the indelible link it has to those who hold the office of the President of the United States.

The Cathedral is not only the home to an Episcopal congregation but a house of prayer for all people from around the United States and the world. Construction began in 1907 and the Cathedral took shape during two World Wars, the Great Depression and 16 presidencies. It is known today as a sacred place for national prayer services and more.

“Washington National Cathedral holds a special place in American history as a sacred space for many national moments, from inaugural prayer services to state funerals,” said McLaurin. “It’s in this very space where many of us have tender memories of the final farewell to President George H.W. Bush and the moment when President George W. Bush reached over and handed former First Lady Michelle Obama a piece of candy at John McCain’s funeral.”

Over the course of the Cathedral’s history, in addition to Sunday services, presidents and key figures in politics have taken to the pulpit during poignant moments in time. The White House and the city of Washington, and even the Cathedral, were important scenes of the Civil Rights Movement. In late 1968, Dean Francis Sayre Jr. invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to preach at the Cathedral.

“Dean Sayre had been very involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and when Dr. King came on Palm Sunday in 1968, [Dr. King] preached his last sermon,” said Reverend Hollerith. “So, his sermon here is very special to us. His presence here is very special to us. He is permanently a part of the iconography of the Cathedral.”

In addition to presidential families and activities, the Cathedral is an integral part of many families’ lives in Washington, D.C. from Easter to Christmas services, and every sermon in between. The Cathedral also has a global congregation, with worshippers streaming from every continent, including Antarctica.

“For so many people, we are their church,” said Rev. Canon Naylor Cope. “The ministry we provide is so powerful for people and needed by people, so we are quite honored and flattered to be able to offer our ministry digitally.”

The full video of this podcast episode is also available on the White House Historical Association’s YouTube channel here.

The White House 1600 Sessions podcast is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

For more information, please contact

The White House 1600 Sessions

The White House Historical Association’s President Stewart McLaurin is the host of The White House 1600 Sessions, the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit