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Washington National Cathedral

A cathedral in light of the definition refers to a church headed by a bishop as the main presiding person where believers of Christ congregate to worship. Additionally, the term cathedral also applies to a church that does not have episcopal duties. Cathedrals in existence today carry a long history with them from their humble beginnings to what they have evolved to today. One of such culturally valuable cathedrals in the United States of America is the Washington National cathedral. It is located in the northwest part of Washington DC. As the cathedral is a church that serves the entire nation, anyone interested in visiting or joining the church always has a place in the cathedral community. A critical analysis of the national cathedral focuses on the history of the church, the activities, visitors, construction, prayers and services among other major events and activities of the cathedral. The paper thus concentrates on the features of the Washington National Cathedral that appeal to the feelings and create unforgettable image impression.

Art and design is an area of study that forms the nature of various aspects of the world. Many recreational features like museums utilize art and design techniques in ensuring that they appeal to the viewers. It is appropriate for the artists to design their work in a manner that they are of enthusiasm to the public. Most of the art and design features need to create a feeling, effect, or image to the viewers. More so, people prefer visiting places that make them proud of following numerous features that they contain. Buildings have a lot of effect on the people thus requiring a proper design for them. The design process entails structure, coloring, and furniture of a building.

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Washington National Cathedral combines building techniques that bring out the desired feeling and effect. The building stands on a compound that ensures fresh moisture to the people around. The environment provides green nature that creates a feeling of beauty to many. The designers ensured that the building had combination of colors effects appropriate for viewers. Washington National Cathedral is a building that stands tall above the ground while containing many pillars. Its tall nature and wide area of coverage provides people with a clear view of the structure.  The building is also characterized by several rooms each designed for a specific purpose. For instance, the west rose window west remains a dedication to the Queen of the Great Britain. It implies, therefore, that apart from serving as a church, other rooms fulfil other functions. Its location in the Wisconsin Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C makes it more attractive to those who live around and others. Overall, it is true that Washington National Cathedral combines a lot of design techniques that offer great attraction to the public.

The building currently known as Washington Cathedral was before named officially as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Its construction began in 1893 as the result of the Congress incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation. 

It was the president Theodore Roosevelt who laid down its foundation in 1907. During the occasion, various people attended the event to ensure that it remained successful. The construction ended in 1990. It took a period of 83 years. During the time, President George H.W. Bush was in power. Currently, the church serves national purposes. It is an Episcopal cathedral that gives an opportunity to all people regardless of their faiths and perceptions. Washington National Cathedral blends spiritual and civic functions. Additionally, it serves as the voice for many faithful. The church also facilitates reconciliation among many people. Included in the process of reconciliation is dialogue that ensures common understanding among people. 

Washington National Cathedral as a church commands the whole nation. It accommodates people of all religious backgrounds in enhancing the work of God. Each year, the Cathedral opens its doors to thousands of worshipers and visitors who come to find peace and inspiration, listen to beautiful music, and experience the Cathedral’s extraordinary art and architecture. 

The building structure of Cathedral is a unique one. It depicts a cross shape, and it is large enough. It has a long nave and two shorter transepts offering it the appropriate design that it deserves. More so, the artists used the Gothic structure in building. Its structural components include great height and the use of pointed arches. Additionally, boss stones, ribbed vaulting, large windows, and fling buttresses all make the building offer an effect to the society. However, the walls do not provide support to its weight.  Consequently, they are thin and tall, thereby offering support for other parts of the building. Other works include wrought iron, stone, stained glass, wood, and fabric art. Their importance lies in decorating the structure for aesthetic purposes. The design is also part of the Cathedral’s iconography. It represents the planned system of images and symbols intended to serve diverse functions. Their work encompasses teaching Christian beliefs and revealing the presence of God. Besides, they pay tribute to the country’s history and values.

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The congregation at the cathedral is committed group of people who have given their lives to serving the spiritual purpose ordained by Christ to them. The church has approximately 14000 members of the congregation, and statistics show that the number continues to increase steadily annually. There are a total of 869 households at the cathedral recorded and approximate of 139 new members registering last alone. The cathedral offers the congregation an opportunity to serve Christ and mankind. They are involved in all kind of activities ranging from church duties to charity activities. The cathedral congregation is divided into groups which have different roles in the church. Fellowship groups, such as the 20s&30s, LGBT, and the Knitting and Crochet groups, the various Outreach and Advocacy ministries, book groups, and pilgrimages also offer ways to connect. The third Sunday of each month is of significance. It is the period when they orient their new members. The informal meetings with the vicar are also important for the Church. They avail information concerning the congregation life. Other fellowship events include the monthly “Ultimate Sunday Brunch” that brings young adults together after the 11:15 a.m. service and on the Easter Day.

Worship and Services

The cathedral offers a chance of the spiritual journey for everyone so that all visitors grow and develop together spiritually. The door of the cathedral is always open for everyone to worship. The Washington national cathedral is always keen and formal in following the tradition of the episcopal liturgy which entails mostly of the structure of the worship service.  For the episcopal liturgy, the style that is adopted and followed is the style presented in the book of a common prayer. Everyone is always welcome and allowed to participate in the cathedral services as they wish depending on the preference in worship styles, modes, and time. Taking the Holy Communion is also not restricted.


The cathedral being a historic landmark offers a wonderful scenic beauty composed of arts, artefacts and antiques rare to find in any other place. People are allowed the visit the Washington National Cathedral in order to discover many facets of the cathedral landmark features. Members of the congregation are always there to guide visitors around and even explain what each category of antique entails. Additionally, there are tour guides who possess a professional and technical knowhow of the cathedral and the artefacts in general.

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Leadership and funding

The leadership in the cathedral takes two forms, the episcopal approach and the primatial approach. The episcopal leader on the seat currently is the bishop of Washington called right reverend Marian Edgar Buddle. Reverend Michael Curry is the primatial leader of the church. More so, Gary R. also served as the leader in the Church. Many evolutions have taken place, including the office of Presiding Bishop. Several terms dominated the Church, especially when Bishop William White of Pennsylvania ruled. The General Convention declared to serve as the president of the new church. His duty was based in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The aim was to uplift the people’s faiths and ensure that they understand the Church norms. It is following such move that he then served as the leader of the people. It was in 1926 when John Garner Murray became the first elected bishop. John had business and church planting backgrounds thus making him fit for the post. Henry St. George Tucker resigned twelve years later. He was the first bishop to resign from the post. He wanted to focus on the church-wide ministry. Henry Knox Sherrill then succeeded in following his resignation. Henry established the Episcopal Church Foundation to help in serving the people. His next mission lied in facilitating justice and reconciliation.

 The former oceanographer Katharine Jeffers Schori also held a significant role as a woman. She became the first woman to hold the office of Presiding Bishop in 1926. Besides, Katharine was first woman primate in the Anglican Communion. The current structure encompasses such people as Michael Bruce Curry and the Twenty-Seventh Presiding Bishop among others.

Currently, the National Cathedral Association (NCA) has a mandate to provide financing and promote the Washington national cathedral. The NCA is the primary source of the cathedral funding while the visitors of the cathedral prove to be a significant source of the cathedrals funding.

Furthermore, the feeling that the coloring of Washington National Cathedral has on the viewers is to be considered. From the outer side, the building shows brown painting mixed with other colors. The mixture of the colors is done in a manner that it offers a form of feeling to the society. One finds the building lucrative due to the painting around it. The west rose window combines a series of colors with others bright while others dull. The mixture of red, blue, and grey paintings gives the room its beauty. The design of the windows is another area that makes one feel impressed with the building. The artists designed them in a way that some are circular in shape. The glasses are silvery and a little rough to ensure that they offer the desired appeal. The positions of the windows are also appropriately selected to serve their purpose. They ensure proper lighting and availability of fresh air in the building. Sitting in the place makes one feel like it is the most desirable. On the other hand, the space in the building is of high standard. Each room has an adequate space to accommodate the numbers of individuals, which was intended by the designers. Some cover large space thereby ensures that people do not feel unwell in the environment.

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More so, the building material of the Washington National Cathedral is a standard one. The artists used Indian limestone in constructing the walls of the building. The stone offers a smooth texture that creates the calm feeling about the building. The limestones are accurately laid on top of each other with no irregularity. In between the stones, mortar is placed to ensure that they stich well to each other. Using the Indian limestone in constructing the building makes it attract to most of the people.  Those who worship in the church section find it convenient when they sit close to its smooth walls. More so, the artists used solid stone for the flying buttresses. Their function is to hold the walls and up and brace them all the time. Consequently, this helps in ensuring stability concerning the strength of the structure. One notices the use of steel beam on the roof. The steel beams do not hold up any additional structures. The remaining part of the Cathedral relies on other types of beams that make them remain stable. It implies, therefore, that the rest of the building would still stand even if one removed the steel beams. It is the element of strength that guarantees that people have a strong feeling concerning the building. Many individuals feel that their security is enhanced thanks to the design structure of the building. Using steel beam also provides the desired strength for the building. Many people interpret steel as strong material that qualifies to serve in such buildings like Washington National Cathedral. It is important that during the design of any building, the artists use materials that make security of the people attending the building be assured. The material and the color components of the building are also of great importance. They provide the feeling and the effect for both people who enter the building and those who simply walk by. 

The next aspect of the building is its image that stands high on a large area. Washington National Cathedral has a large image that applies various aspects in appealing to the viewers. The building offers a wide field of view, thereby ensuring that people have a complete interaction with its features. The curving of certain parts makes a touching effect on many.

In conclusion, Washington National Cathedral is one building that combines most of the desired art and design techniques in giving both feeling and effect. It serves various functions including tour, church services, and housing. The structure is designed in a way that it provides an appeal to many people. The designers used Indian limestone in constructing most of the parts of the building. The material gives it an appropriate texture, thereby making it offer an appropriate effect to the environment. Apart from the Indian limestone, the artists used steel beams in reinforcing most of the parts of the building. The materials provide the structures with the required strength to guarantee the necessary security to the users. The design of the doors, windows, and other components all function to give the building its inalienable values. On the other hand, coloring offers the facility a good look. The painters used a desirable mixture of colors including blue, white, and grey in ensuring that it remains attractive to the people. Color makes the building meet the aesthetic demands of people. 

Finally, one has the opportunity to visit Washington National Cathedral for Various functions, including church services and tours among others. The facility serves the society for numerous purposes. It is flexible to accommodate their various demands, thereby ensuring that they get maximum benefit out of it.

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