Washington National Cathedral celebrates $115 million raised for repairs, growth, future stability

By David Paulsen
Posted Sep 26, 2022

Washington National Cathedral has raised $115 million in a five-year capital campaign with a goal of reaching $150 million within two years.. Photo courtesy of the cathedral

Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral announced Sept. 26 that it had raised $115 million – over three-fourths of its goal — in the first three years of a five-year capital campaign to fund repairs to the cathedral, which was damaged in a 2011 earthquake, and to ensure the institution’s future growth and stability.

“This is the culmination of an effort to restore the cathedral’s defining features and expand our mission in service to the community, both here in Washington and across the nation,” the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a news release. “With the funding provided by this effort, the cathedral will ensure the ability to serve as a sacred space and gathering place for all people in new and exciting ways.”

The initial success of the $150 million campaign, “A Cathedral for the Future,” was celebrated at the Sunday worship service at the cathedral, with a look ahead to the next phase of the fundraising. Hollerith noted that this week marks 115 years since construction began on the cathedral in 1907 with the laying of the cornerstone.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, preaching at the Sept. 26 service, thanked Hollerith, Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and other cathedral leaders for their efforts to enable “this great cathedral [to] continue its witness for generations yet to come.”

“This cathedral has been dedicated to be a house of prayer of all people,” Curry said. “It has been dedicated to help this nation rediscover what ‘e pluribus unum’ means and can mean, to help this world rediscover what it means to become God’s beloved community. … The vocation of this cathedral is to help this city, this country, this world to reorient itself from the nightmare our selfishness sometime makes into the dream God intends for all of us.”

The 2011 earthquake caused an estimated $38 million in damage to the cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Washington and an iconic landmark in the U.S. capital. About $24 million in repairs already have been completed. With revenue from the continuing fundraising campaign, the cathedral is expected to finish the rest of the repair work over the next decade, including to the 300-foot central tower, which was severely damaged.

The fundraising campaign also will support the opening of the Virginia Mae Center, envisioned as a central hub for the newly launched Cathedral College of Faith & Culture. The center is to be located in a 27,000-square-foot building that once housed the cathedral’s College of Preachers, which had been vacant and deteriorating since 2008, when it closed amid the Great Recession.

“This campaign is an important investment in our congregation, community, and ongoing programming,” said Andrew Florance, the previous chair of the Cathedral Chapter, who along with his wife, Heather, donated $5 million toward the new center. An additional $17 million was given to the project by Virginia Cretella Mars, for whom the center is named.

“Through this campaign and through this amazing new Virginia Mae Center, people can come together, learn from each other and leave equipped to help repair the world,” Florance said.

Other initiatives to be supported by the fundraising campaign include renovations to the cathedral’s great organ, investments in digital technology and expanded racial justice programing. A stained-glass window designed by African American artist Kerry James Marshall is scheduled to be installed in 2023, effectively replacing a previous window that was removed for its depiction of Confederate imagery.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.