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UCC pastor gives invocation for Governor's inauguration

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who has attended Eagle Harbor Congregational UCC on Bainbridge Island where he has lived while serving the U.S. Congress, invited Dee Eisenhauer, the pastor there, to gave the invocation at his inauguration in Jan. 16.

Dee Eisenhauer

Dee Eisenhauer offers invocation for inauguration of Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee, left.
Photo by Mark Mulligan reprinted with permission from The Everett Herald -

Thrilled at the invitation, she asked members of her congregation and the interfaith council if they had that opportunity, how would they pray. 

She gathered ideas and phrases she both incorporated and set aside, taking care to distinguish lobbying—many of the ideas were telling him what to do—from praying.

“I thought it was appropriate to pray for people in leadership in the multicultural multifaith setting of a joint session of the State Legislature,” Eisenhauer said.

Eisenhauer has been a pastor at Eagle Harbor since 1999, her third call since her ordination in 1985. She has also served Kirkland Congregational Church and United Church in University Place.

Before she began as pastor, Inslee and his wife, Trudi, moved to Bainbridge Island from Yakima.

“People would see him on the ferry and chat about life and government,” she said, adding that he receives her sermons by email each week, at his request.

When his transition team invited her to give the invocation, she invited him to the Christmas pageant. When the Inslees came, they came with their security people.

“About five years ago, when he was campaigning in Bainbridge Island, Jay saw our church flag pole needed to be painted.  He had just repainted his father’s flag pole, so he repainted ours,” she said.

Involved in advocacy, recently on marriage equality, Eisenhauer said she focused on praying for the new leader.  She writes U.S. and state legislators about four times a year, goes to Interfaith Lobby Days of the Faith Action Network in February in Olympia and was among 900 in a Feb. 9 interfaith candlelight march in Seattle against gun violence.

It’s important for us to have a relationship with our legislators and see them as human beings under pressure,” she said.  “It’s also important for us to thank them if they vote the way we consider just and for the common good.”

Beyond writing letters, she recommends developing relationships and friendships that give access to legislators and to let them know “we care about them as people, not just as instruments to help us achieve what we want.”

Eisenhauer family

Daughters Karen and Emma joined Dee and John Eisenhauer for the inauguration.

Photo courtesy of Dee Eisenhauer

Eisenhauer, who related with Inslee at fund raising events and town halls, suggests that’s how to be known by political and government leaders, so “we are not a stranger when we want to discuss an issue.”

She observed that there’s a fine line between respecting someone in office and being in awe of the person as a celebrity.

“The role of legislators is like clergy.  We are to serve and lead people,” she said.  “As servants, we give people what they want.  As their leaders, we give people what they need.”

Eisenhauer and her family attended the inauguration in the morning.  Then she went to lobby her legislators on:  1) reducing gun violence and 2) amending the U.S. Constitution to end corporate personhood.  She met with one.

The stole she wore, she said, was made by Deborah Rose of Spokane and includes a rendition of the UCC “God is still speaking” comma as part of sharing the story of creation.

She shared her invocation:

“Holy One whom we call by many names, out of our separate paths we have converged in this place on this day of new beginnings.  Call us out of our separateness, our parties and caucuses, our interest groups and districts, help us for this moment to transcend all that divides us.  Give us in these moments of prayer a spirit of true unity as we attune our souls to a Higher Power.”

Her prayer spoke of “celebrating the hard work, deep convictions and good intentions that brought all those who have run for public office into this temple of democracy.”

She expressed gratitude for government leaders’ “will to serve” and “call to service.”  

Her invocation recognized the excitement and trepidation people feel, mindful of the difficult tasks, complex problems to solve and heart-wrenching choices for those in public office.  It also prayed for them as imperfect beings, juggling competing interests while “struggling to discern greater goods and lesser evils.”

Creator, you know us to be creatures with speckled hearts,” Eisenhauer prayed.  “We long to do good and relish being right,” “proud of our skills and accomplishments, and often blind to our own faults and weaknesses.”

She prayed that leaders be vigilant against powers and temptations that “corrupt the heart and cripple democracy.”

She continued, “We need your aid to see beyond our narrow interests to a broad vision of the common good”—championing the poor and vulnerable, and keeping voices of the voiceless heard. 

“Kindle compassion for those whose ability to take care of themselves is compromised by unemployment, disability, illness, injury or age,” she prayed. 

Especially we ask you to keep the future of our children and youth in minds and hearts as we strive to leave them a better world. 

“You have blessed Governor Inslee with a passion for preserving this green earth.  Use his passion and vision to advance our state’s stewardship of the magnificent natural resources entrusted to us, that present and future generations might benefit from this term of leadership,” she prayed.

Eisenhauer prayed that in the midst of conflict, those elected would provoke peace, seek common ground “that welcomes both conviction and compromise,”  find the “dynamic balance between continuity and change.” 

“Where we cannot reach unanimity, steer us away from futile dissonance and stir us instead to creative harmony.” 

She asked for Inslee to have wisdom, courage, strength and patience, to listen as well as speak, learn as well as teach, follow as well as lead.  She prayed for guarding his health, protecting him from harm and strengthening his marriage.

“May the words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts, the fruits of our labor, the effects of our policies, the legacy of our laws, the dynamics of our decisions be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen,” Eisenhauer concluded.

For information, call 206-842-4657 or email

Copyright February 2013 © Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News


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