Brooklyn, New York — The renowned Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, known both for its award-winning music and testimonies of changed lives, is scheduled to perform at the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama.
According to reports, the Grammy-winning choir had been invited to the Inauguration in June of last year by United States Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who serves as the chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Schumer, a Democrat, states that he is a “frequent visitor” of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.
“I am honored for the opportunity to plan the Presidential Inauguration festivities, and today I’m pleased to invite Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir to perform at the 57th Inauguration in January,” he stated last year upon extending the invitation. “As a frequent visitor to their wonderful congregation, I know from first-ear experience how amazing this choir is, and I know they will wow the whole nation, too. I know this invitation is music to their ears, and they will send their talented, Grammy award-winning singers to represent my hometown Brooklyn in the nation’s capital. I look forward to Pastor Jim Cymbala’s decision, as I know the choir will showcase the best that New York has to offer.”
The choir is set to sing their unique rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the Inaugural ceremonies on January 21st at the U.S. Capitol.
“It definitely is, of course, humbling and such an honor being selected,” spokesman Jeremy Castro told reporters. “It wasn’t something we pitched. It’s just good to know that … the choir and the ministry of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, that it’s actually having impact in the city of New York and in the nation enough to be asked to be a part of this occasion.”
The Brooklyn Tabernacle is one of the most-known megachurches in America, with an approximate 16,000 members. Jim Cymbala has pastored the church for over 30 years, and his wife Carol directs the choir.
Their appearance at the Inauguration comes at a time when Passion conference founder Pastor Louie Giglio bowed out of his invitation to deliver the benediction at the event following criticism from homosexual advocates. Giglio had originally accepted the invite, but decided to drop out two days later after an old sermon was brought to the forefront where he stated that Christ can set men free from the sin of homosexuality.
In his statement issued Thursday, Giglio outlined that homosexual behavior is not a focus his ministry, and that he feared his appearance at the Inauguration might turn the occasion into an argument over the issue.
“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration,” he wrote. “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”
There has been much disagreement among evangelicals regarding whether Giglio should have backed out of the ceremony, including his reasoning for doing so.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson