Pilgrims said the gothic structure of the Washington National Cathedral was awe-inspiring.
Twenty-four people from the area, plus one Californian, traveled Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 to Washington, D.C., on a pilgrimage to see the National Cathedral, an edifice of stone which was begun during the tenure of President Theodore Roosevelt and finished during the term of President George Bush.
"It was impressive in terms of seeing a Medieval, truly Medieval, structure of those dimensions," Erika Binns said. "It is very beautiful that it is a place of worship for people of all faiths. ... The whole thing, inside and outside, is truly magnificent."
The trip, organized by the regional chairs for National Cathedral Assn., Sandra and Allen Wiechert, included four events at the cathedral, a night at Ford's Theater, a bus tour of Washington and the Van Gogh's Van Goghs art exhibit.
On Nov. 1, the group attended an All Saints Day service, toured the building and attended the U.S. Marine Corps anniversary service.
"They were inspiring," Binns said. "You were made to be quite comfortable, though it was awe-inspiring, the surroundings."
Don Warders, another "pilgrim," agreed.
"It's such a large building and the stained glass windows are so beautiful," he said. "It's really an uplifting experience because it is such a grand place -- your spirits just sort of soar. ... The services were familiar to me, but the surroundings ..."
At the services, the group heard the U.S. Marine Corps Band and Choir perform. The tour, "Needlepoint Stitches to God," took the group through the cathedral, showing the tapestries, kneelers and cushions donated to the cathedral.
On Nov. 2, they went on a prayer pilgrimage in the three lower level chapels of the cathedral that included guided spiritual meditations and a spiritual pilgrimage tour.
"It was a real spiritual experience to worship there," Warder said. "It was a time to reflect in each of three chapels. It was a very quiet time."
Sandra Wiechert said the prayer pilgrimage went through the chapel of St. Joseph, the Bethlehem Chapel, the Resurrection Chapel and St. Dunstan's Chapel. The Rev. Canon Frederick Schmidt led the group through meditation.
"We were all given medals to wear around our necks, and keep," she said. Many people wore them home, she added. "It was just a wonderful experience."
Wiechert said that though the cathedral was the focus of the trip, the group saw several other houses of worship, including St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Cathedral, St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral, The Islamic Center and St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
"I'm really tickled we got to see so many houses of prayer," she said.
"Time was too short, which means it was a good trip," Binns said.
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