A statement from the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral:

At this moment of national reckoning with America’s original sin of racism, how desperately we need the voice of John Lewis, and how sad we are that it is gone. Every so often, God gives us extraordinary individuals who spend their lives working for justice and promoting the way of love. John Lewis was just such a gift from God. He was a light in the darkness, a voice for the voiceless, a tireless champion for equality.

As a trailblazer in the struggle for civil rights and later, as the conscience of Capitol Hill, Rep. John Lewis called this country, time and time again, to work for something better. He never gave up on America, even at times when America seemed to renege on its promise that all people are created equal. 

When our African American brothers and sisters were denied the vote in the Jim Crow South, he organized buses of Freedom Riders. When met with brutal force on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, John Lewis clung to nonviolence and nearly gave his life. Across three decades in Congress, he continued to fight for those who have no voice or power.

His friend and mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, said that the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. In so many ways, John Lewis was the one molding that arc, using the great weight of his moral witness to push this nation closer toward equality. 

Today, we find this nation in the depths of a moral awakening on issues of race, confronting the long shadows of 400 years of systemic injustice. John Lewis lived this struggle his entire life, but he never lost faith in the goodness and promise of a more perfect Union. 

While we mourn his loss, his work must now become our own, particularly at this moment in our nation’s life. National leaders and icons always seem to leave us too soon, at exactly the wrong moments, but John Lewis has shown us the way forward.  

This humble prophet gave more than most of us would ever be asked, or willing, to give. He has indeed overcome, and in the words of St. Paul, earned the reward of a good and faithful servant. May we never forget his example, and may we be as good and generous as he challenged us to be. 

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant John. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  Amen.

Tony Franquiz, 202-374-5393, [email protected]


About Washington National Cathedral Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.