Richard Weaver, President of the National Society of Washington Family Descendants, presents the communion plate to the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, Vicar of Trinity Wall Street.
George Washington prayed at St. Paul’s Chapel - and not just after his inauguration. Now, 225 years later, a group of his descendants have, too.
Washington was a regular at St. Paul’s Chapel on Sundays during the first years of his presidency, when New York City was the nation’s capital. * On Mondays he got back to the work of nation-building, establishing the first Cabinet, the first Supreme Court, and signing the resolution which sent the Bill of Rights to the states for eventual ratification.
So when the National Society of the Washington Family Descendants held its annual meeting in New York City this year, attending a Sunday service at St. Paul’s Chapel was high on the to-do list.
“It’s our tradition. We gather in a different city each year. It’s our 61st year. We’ve been visiting sites associated with George Washington, and of course we had to come here, to the chapel,” said Richard Weaver, President of the Society.
Forty-eight members of the Society attended the 9:15am Holy Eucharist at St. Paul’s Chapel on Sunday, October 18. At the end of the service, the Society presented Trinity Wall Street's Vicar, the Rev. Phillip Jackson, with a silver communion plate bearing the Washington family crest. That plate will be used for Sunday services at St. Paul’s Chapel.
“This is a new tradition. We give money to places we visit. But we thought it would be more meaningful to give something that would be used. Particularly given the connection of Washington to this place,” Weaver said.
The National Society of Washington Family Descendants was founded in 1954 to perpetuate the Washington name, perform acts of charity, promote the welfare of the family, and encourage fellowship among family members.
Washington family descendants in St. Paul's Chapel
“I’ve been a member since 1999, although my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother were members, back when it started,” explained Milly Hopkins, one of the members in attendance at St. Paul’s Chapel. “None of us are direct descendants of George. George had no children. We’re descendants of other members of the family. For instance, my sixth great-grandparents were George’s grandparents.”
The Society wrapped up its visit to St. Paul’s Chapel with a memorial service for those members who died this past year. Watching, as they likely will for many years to come, were nine-year-old Sherelyn and seven-year-old Faithlyn, attending the meeting with their grandparents. When asked about Washington, Sherelyn exclaimed, “He’s our sixteenth cousin!”
Sherelyn watches the memorial service
*Washington was also a regular at the first Trinity Church during the Continental Army’s occupation of New York City in 1776, despite the fact that he and Trinity’s clergy were on opposing sides of the question of independence.