On Jan. 21, representatives of three of In Trust’s member schools participated in the National Prayer Service for the presidential inauguration. Frederick A. Davie, executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary, Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont School of Theology, and Alexia Salvatierra, assistant professor of mission and global transformation at Fuller Theological Seminary pre-recorded their prayers, which were broadcast during the service at the National Cathedral. They shared some of the behind-the-scenes story with IT.
Did you write your prayer or was it assigned?
Salvatierra: My prayer was assigned to me but it fit. I did make a couple of small changes. For example, I chose to pray in Spanish and English.
Kuan: It was a litany prayer so it was already scripted. I was given a part that was very focused on justice. That is a calling and passion of mine, so it spoke to me.
Davie: I wrote my call to prayer, and I wanted to communicate a few things: One is that the Biden-Harris administration—and those two individuals personally invite people of faith and people of goodwill into the conversation. I also wanted to communicate that our prayers were not only for them, but also for people who struggle and suffer at the margins.
What did participation in the service mean to you just two weeks after the mob invaded the Capitol?
Davie: It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m from a small town in North Carolina, so it was a tribute in some ways to my family and the way I was raised. [But] the attempted insurrection and riot weighed heavily on my spirit and soul. I drew on Howard Thurman for inspiration, acknowledging the need to settle our souls while not shrinking back and giving in to despair, instead embracing the hope of the moment and the promise it holds.
Kuan: The prayer service took on even more significance, a reminder for people from all religious traditions that we need to regain a sense of unity in our nation, which has been hit so hard by the pandemic and racial and political divisions.
Salvatierra: I have spent years of my life bringing people together on common sacred ground where we can both reconcile and be transformed in the process....This felt like a pure honoring of the ministries and communities that I serve....Any opportunity to pray together for the common good is a step forward.
What does it mean to have theological schools represented at the prayer service?
Kuan: It shows that theological institutions are not just standing on the sidelines—many are committed to doing faith in the public square because we want to see a better future.
Presidential Prayer: Three representatives of In Trust member schools were part of the inaugural prayer service: Alexia Salvatierra, Frederick A. Davie, Jeffrey Kuan.
Frederick A. Davie