Powell recalled as Episcopalian at cathedral funeral

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(RNS) – Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, known as a four-star general and former secretary of defense, was recalled during his funeral at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday 5 November as a man of the Episcopal Church. Faith.

A colleague and longtime friend, Richard Armitage, who served as Assistant Secretary of State under Powell, recalled how their regular 7 a.m. calls went through at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, after his supervisor returned from the church.

“Colin loved the church: he loved the ceremony. He loved the liturgy. He loved big hymns, which made him extremely happy, ”said Armitage, who served with Powell in the State Department under George W. Bush’s administration, at the private ceremony broadcast live on YouTube.

“And he would respond the same way every Sunday. He said, ‘Oh yeah, I was in church. And I want you to know that I am in a state of grace. And I would answer in the same way every Sunday: “Colin, if you are not in a state of grace, who is among us? And it was every day for almost 40 years, the same opening remarks.

Powell, who died of complications from COVID-19 on October 18, was honored in a private ceremony lasting nearly two hours. Hundreds of people gathered under the cathedral’s neo-Gothic arches, including President Biden and two former presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and their wives, as well as former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother Colin Luther Powell for burial,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who met the general’s coffin at the doors of the cathedral with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, Head of the Episcopal Church. Diocese of Washington.

Some of the family of Powell, 84, played key roles in the service which mixed the cathedral’s high liturgy with the military precision of uniformed servicemen carrying Powell’s coffin and escorting his family.


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His son, former Federal Communications Chairman Michael K. Powell, paid tribute, as did Armitage and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who predated Powell in the post. His daughter, Annemarie Powell Lyons, read in the Book of Micah of the Hebrew Bible: “And what does the Lord require of you but to do righteousness, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your? God ?

Reverend Stuart A. Kenworthy speaks at Colin Powell’s funeral at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington on Friday, November 5, 2021. Video screenshot

Reverend Stuart A. Kenworthy was inspired by this scripture when he spoke of Powell’s faith.

“Colin has known his God for all of his years,” Kenworthy said in his homily, a role the former Army National Guard chaplain also played at the 2016 funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan . “His faith was of primary importance and his life was marked by these words of the prophet Micah. “

He also encouraged those who remembered Powell to embrace their Christian faith.

“God raised up Jesus so that you and I could share in his resurrection, and if you turn to him and accept him in faith, he will come into you and lift you up into this new and eternal life now,” Kenworthy preached. “Just as he did for your beloved Colin, who now stands on another shore and in a greater light, with this multitude of saints that no mortal can count. “

Before the homily, Reverend Joshua D. Walters, rector of the Powell Family Church in McLean, Virginia, read words of Jesus from the Gospel of John: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, also believe in me.

The faithful, masked during the continuing pandemic, rose to sing the hymns “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “Precious Lord”. Soloist Wintley Phipps sang “How Great Thou Art”.

In an earlier statement released after Powell’s death, Curry noted that Powell was a longtime Episcopalian.

“I pray for his family and all his many loved ones, and I give thanks for his model of integrity, his faithful service to our nation and his testimony of the impact of a quiet and worthy faith in public life,” said declared the presiding bishop at the time. “He cared deeply about people. He served his country and mankind nobly. He loved his family and his God steadfastly.

President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama stand during the funeral of former Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday November 5, 2021, in Washington.  Video screenshot

President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama stand during the funeral of former Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday November 5, 2021, in Washington. Video screenshot

While not generally known for his connections to religion, Powell has been noted for comments he once made on the faith of then-Senator Obama.

Obama, in a statement released on the day of Powell’s death, expressed deep appreciation for Powell’s endorsement of his presidential candidacy after the general had been affiliated with former Republican administrations.

“At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could,” Obama said in the statement. , referring to rumors that he was a Muslim.

At the time, Powell said, “The correct answer is that he is not a Muslim; he is a Christian.

But Powell then added a follow-up, “But the real correct answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there anything wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, it is not America. Is there something wrong with a 7 year old American Muslim kid who believes he could be president? “

Powell was also among the top picks of likely voters who were religious and were considering potential vice-presidents when the then senator ran for president in 2008.

But Armitage and other speakers mostly put politics aside by remembering the man who was their friend, family member or colleague.

The former assistant secretary of state noted that he and Powell had different preferences for anthems. Armitage recited the last verse of “Rough Side of the Mountain,” which speaks of standing “before the throne of God” when the race of life is over.

“Be really quiet,” Armitage told the congregation. “Listen very carefully. And you might hear our savior say, ‘Colin, welcome home. And here is your star crown.


RELATED: Photo of Headstone of Muslim Soldier Who Touched Powell


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