Bush Attends National Prayer Day

President Bush was among the crows who attended Friday's National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

(Soundbite of orchestra music)

SIEGEL: Today religious and political leaders, including President Bush, gathered at Washington National Cathedral. They were there for a service marking a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

BLOCK: Many churches, mosques and synagogues around the country participated. Some chose not to, saying they were angry over the federal government's delay in responding to Katrina.

SIEGEL: In Washington, several dozen evacuees and first responders from New Orleans attended the service. Speakers focused on the divide between rich and poor, a divide exposed by the storm.

BLOCK: Bishop T.D. Jakes gave the sermon. He heads a largely African-American church called The Potter's House in Dallas, which has 30,000 members. Jakes spoke of the need to bridge economic divides.

Bishop T.D. JAKES (The Potter's House): It teaches us that we can no longer be a nation that overlooks the poor and the suffering and continue past the ghetto on our way to the Mardi Gras. Katrina, perhaps she has done something to this nation that we needed to have done. She has made us think and look and reach beyond the breach and dare to discuss the unmentionable issues that confront us on a day-to-day basis, to deal with our differences and distinctives and perspectives and to talk about things that are not politically correct.

SIEGEL: In his remarks, President Bush echoed themes from his speech last night in New Orleans. He said that the destruction by Hurricane Katrina gives America the opportunity to rebuild hope for minorities and the poor.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: As we rebuild homes and businesses, we will renew our promise as a land of equality and decency, and one day Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew, not only in prosperity, but in character and justice.

BLOCK: The president also spoke about faith. He said it's through prayer that we come to understand the arbitrary harm produced by Hurricane Katrina.

Pres. BUSH: And in our search we're reminded that God's purposes are sometimes impossible to know here on earth. Yet even as we are humbled by forces we cannot explain, we take comfort in the knowledge that no one is ever stranded beyond God's care. The creator of wind and water is also the source of even a greater power: a love that can redeem the worst tragedy, a love that is stronger than death.

SIEGEL: President George Bush, speaking today at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

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