Matthew Shepard as photographed in the late 1990s.

FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
November 20, 2019

WASHINGTON Washington National Cathedral and the Matthew Shepard Foundation will hold a ceremony on Monday, December 2 at 7 p.m.  ET to dedicate a plaque in memory of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was murdered in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime, and whose remains were interred at the Cathedral in October 2018, on the 20th remembrance of his death.

The plaque will indicate Shepard’s final resting place in the Cathedral, where other notable historical figures have also been interred, including President Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, and Bishop Thomas Claggett, the first Episcopal bishop ordained in America.

This event is open to media; please RSVP to cathedral@westendstrategy.com if you plan on attending. The service will be led by the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral and the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington. The ceremony will feature prayers, remarks and musical performances from:

  • Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard 
  • Mary Lambert, singer and composer
  • The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington 
  • The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church
  • Excerpts from “The Laramie Project”

“People around the world gave generously to make this memorial possible,” said Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, co-founder and president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “We’re grateful for each gift that created this beautiful plaque that now marks Matt’s final resting place. We hope this will be a place that forever offers solace and strength for all who visit.”

Bishop Robinson spoke at Shepard’s interment ceremony at the Cathedral last year, and told Matthew, “you are safe now.” In the 20 years between Matthew’s death and his interment, the Shepard family had chosen not to bury him out of fear that the site would be vandalized. Shepard is one of only 200 people to have been interred in the Cathedral over the last century.

“As a sacred space for the nation and house of prayer for all people, the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as Matthew’s final resting place, and to take this further step to show that, finally, Matthew is home and he is safe,” said Dean Hollerith. “Matthew’s indelible legacy and the enduring strength and courage of his family and loved ones serve as a guiding force for all of us in how to confront bigotry by fostering greater love, acceptance and embrace of people of all backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations. We are proud to play our part in this important, necessary struggle.”

A longtime supporter of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the church, the Cathedral considers LGBTQ equality one of the great civil rights issues of the 21st century. The Cathedral hosted its first same-sex wedding in 2010, and welcomed its first transgender preacher to the Canterbury Pulpit in 2014.

The Dec. 2 ceremony is generously underwritten with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

WHAT: Ceremony to dedicate plaque for Matthew Shepard
WHEN: Monday, December 2 at 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
WHO:

NOTE:  The ceremony will be livestreamed via cathedral.org. More information is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT
Tony Franquiz, cathedral@westendstrategy.com, 202-374-5393

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More on 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. (www.cathedral.org)

More on The Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Matthew Shepard Foundation amplifies the story of Matthew to inspire individuals, organizations and communities to embrace the dignity and equality of all people. Through local, regional and national outreach, we empower individuals to find their voice to create change and challenge communities to identify and address hate that lives within their schools, neighborhoods and homes.

Our work is an extension of Matt’s passion to foster a more caring and just world. We share his story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are. (www.matthewshepard.org)