Shortly after opening the Republican National Convention meeting in Tampa, Florida on Monday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus introduced Episcopal Priest Russell Levenson to give the opening prayer. Levenson has served as rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston since 2007. Former President George H.W. Bush and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker are members.
With just over 8,500 members, St. Martin’s is also the largest congregation, by membership, in the Episcopal Church.
Last year President Bush and his wife Barbara attended a ceremonial groundbreaking event at the church, where according to the Houston Chronicle, a new scout hut, youth center and “Hope and Healing” center were given in honor of the Bushes.
Levinson is a participant in the Communion Partners, an informal group of traditionalist rectors and bishops who describe themselves as working to keep theological conservatives in the Episcopal Church, and theological liberals in the Anglican Communion. In July, the group sent a small delegation to the Global South Anglican Primates meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, where they spoke on behalf of traditionalists within the U.S.-based Episcopal Church who dissented from the recent actions of Episcopal General Convention in enacting same-sex blessing rites.
Here is the text of Levenson’s invocation:
“Almighty God, father of the whole human family. We thank you and ask your blessing as we gather for this uniquely American moment. We thank Governor Scott and the people of Florida who have opened their arms of hospitality and welcomed those gathering here into their midst. Lord, you who give life, health and safety, we pray for those already affected by the hurricane and those in its path. Keep them safe, Lord. Provide for their every need and bless those who assist them in this time of trial. We also remember today one of our great American heroes, Neal Armstrong, who captured the American spirit as he reminded us Americans have always reached for the stars, inspiring all humankind to do what others deemed impossible. We thank you for guiding our nation’s founders who secured the inalienable rights that you bestow upon us: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We ask you to guide and directed with your wisdom our President, Congress and the courts. May America continue to be a light unto all the nations, enabling those who lead us to make dreams, hopes and aspirations of all Americans into realities, and to make the American ideal a certainty not just for some, but for all. And finally, by your mercy may we never forget that our freedoms have been won with the blood and the sacrifice of our patriots, always remember that our industry and innovation has been forged with the sweat and toil of American men and women, always believe that houses of worship and places of service are born of the fruit of your inspiration, the desire to honor and serve others, and may we never forget that we are at our best when we know in our hearts that we are not just one nation, but one nation under God. In the name of our Lord I pray, Amen.
Video of the opening invocation can be viewed here.