On October 9, 2011, the Cathedral community hosted “A Festival of Thanksgiving for the Ministry of the Very Reverend Samuel T. Lloyd iii” as one of its regular Sunday-morning services. Lloyd had served as ninth dean of Washington National Cathedral from April 23, 2005, to September 18, 2011. With the Cathedral building still closed after the August 23 earthquake, this farewell for the former dean and his wife, Marguerite, took place at the National Cathedral School for Girls.
The morning’s music and readings complemented its liturgy for “the ending of a pastoral relationship,” in which the former dean returned his official Jerusalem Cross Medallion to friends on the Cathedral Chapter. Lloyd’s sermon, “The View from Mount Nebo,” reflected on all that the Cathedral had experienced during his time as its leader and all that he hoped it might become (see “From the Pulpit,” p.35). Lloyd also thanked the Cathedral’s leadership and staff, particularly Canon Kathleen A. Cox, for “tireless dedication, creativity, and good spirits.”
The Rev. Canon Jan N. Cope, vicar, presided; former Chapter Chair John H. Shenefield, who originally called Dean Lloyd to his position, gave a warm tribute and led the prayers.
A University of Virginia publication once observed that Sam Lloyd’s was not a deanship to be “marked by rest,” and indeed his six-year tenure coincided with some of the lowest and the highest points in the Cathedral’s history: the Great Recession followed not long after the Cathedral’s 2007 centennial, and the 2011 earthquake came in the midst of an exceptional program year.
The particularly challenging times in which Lloyd ministered have earned him respect and admiration.
The Rev. Dr. James P. Wind, current Chapter chair, points out that Lloyd’s ability to convey a broad and welcoming vision for “generous-spirited Christianity,” along with his strong sense of mission priorities, were major assets in hard times. “All of us have benefited from Sam Lloyd’s powerful and beautiful preaching,” he notes, “but we are also much stronger than we were before he came to us. Our identity and sense of mission are sharper and more refined, we have the operational capacities to deliver on them, and our financial house is in order. We have the strength we need to turn this period of transition into one of continued growth for the Cathedral and all those who look to it for inspiration.”
For Colin Bradford, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Lloyd has distinguished himself as a visible leader in the public square. “More than William Sloane Coffin, Desmond Tutu, or any other religious leader in my experience, Sam Lloyd has a unique talent for relating the spiritual to the secular. It is a gift that was revealed in all its splendor in his time at the Cathedral, where he was able to relate religious faith to a hurting world,” Bradford says. “This capacity for leadership, providing a faith perspective on national and global issues, needs to be continued by the Cathedral in the future—and hopefully by Sam in his new role at Trinity Boston. The world needs us to do it and needs him to carry on.”
Lloyd had previously served as rector of Boston’s Trinity Church, Copley Square, from 1993 to 2005; he returns as its priest-in-charge.
Reflecting on all of this, retiring Bishop of Washington John Bryson Chane and current Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde have noted Lloyd’s “courage” as a leader and pastor during challenging times. “He has helped establish Washington National Cathedral as a place where the most pressing issues confronting our nation can be examined in the light of faith,” said Chane. “The mission and ministry of the Cathedral have new momentum, and I am confident that the future will be bright and exciting.”
For Canon Cox, executive director and chief operating officer at the Cathedral, “Sam Lloyd’s commitment to preaching, teaching, and living the Gospel has left an indelible impression. His labors to create a worship life equal to the glory of the finished Cathedral building speak for themselves,” she said, referring to the thriving Cathedral congregation that he established. “I know few leaders have given themselves so graciously to providing for the long-term future of the institutions in their charge.” Moreover, she adds, “No one who has heard Sam speak about this National Cathedral’s unique calling, and the essential work of all great cathedrals, can help but be inspired by his imagination and conviction. Our sense of possibility is more profound and more secure thanks to him.”
Friends and colleagues agree that Lloyd leaves the Cathedral well positioned for his successor, having introduced many now well-loved programs and ministries (including the popular Sunday Forum series) and a Strategic Plan that will govern the institution’s future work.