Washington National Cathedral raises $115 million

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WASHINGTON – Washington National Cathedral today [25 Sept 2022] announced a significant milestone in their five-year A Cathedral for the Future campaign, a comprehensive fundraising effort that aims to raise $150 million to support and expand the Cathedral’s core mission programs and address pressing preservation needs. To date, the Cathedral has raised $115 million over the last three years during the quiet phase of the campaign and expects to raise the remaining money over the next two years.  

The incredible success of this campaign will allow the Cathedral to fully complete the restoration work that has been underway since the 2011 earthquake – including the long- awaited work on the central tower, the crown jewel of the Capital skyline.  

Also included are significant investments in digital infrastructure to facilitate the Cathedral’s growing online outreach; since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 3 million people have accessed Cathedral worship services and programs online, and the Cathedral’s nationwide donor based has doubled. In addition, the campaign will address priority preservation programs to ensure the long-term safety and vitality of a national treasure 115 years after construction began. 

The campaign will make possible the opening of the Cathedral’s new Virginia Mae Center, a fully renovated 30,000-square-foot pilgrimage and retreat center that will expand the Cathedral’s ability to bring people together to learn from each other and to build relationships. Also planned is a major renovation of the Cathedral pipe organ, which was first installed in 1938. The campaign will also cover all operating expenses for the cathedral over five years. 

The campaign, which is expected to last through 2024, will be officially launched on Cathedral Weekend, which will take place on September 23-25, 2022 and celebrates the Cathedral’s 115th birthday. 

“This is the culmination of an effort to restore the Cathedral’s defining features and expand our mission in service to the community, both here in Washington and across the nation,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “With the funding provided by this effort, the Cathedral will ensure the ability to serve as a sacred space and gathering place for all people in new and exciting ways.” 

With the funds raised by the campaign, the Cathedral is poised to complete repair work on the estimated $38 million in damage caused by the 2011 earthquake. In the 11 years since the earthquake, the Cathedral has completed approximately $24 million worth of repairs. Damage from the earthquake was most severe atop the 300-foot central tower. Over the next 10 years, the Cathedral will complete its repairs of the building, including the central tower. 

Funds raised will support the opening of the new Virginia Mae Center, which will be dedicated during Cathedral Weekend. Formerly known as the College of Preachers, the Center will be a central hub for the newly launched Cathedral College of Faith & Culture, the public gateway for Cathedral programs. Over time, the Cathedral College of Faith & Culture will grow to include an Institute for Music, Liturgy & the Arts; the Institute for Ethics & Public Engagement; and the Institute for Spirituality & Leadership. 

The fully accessible and LEED-certified Virginia Mae Center was made possible by a catalytic $17 million gift from longtime Cathedral supporter Virginia C. Mars and her daughters. Mars co-chairs the campaign alongside John G. Donoghue, a former Chair of the Cathedral Chapter, or board of directors. 

“This Cathedral has been an important part of my life for many years, and this campaign is about making sure it can continue to minister to others for many years to come,” said Mars. “There’s something magical about this place; this is where hearts are changed and minds are opened. America needs this Cathedral now more than ever.” 

The new Virginia Mae Center, named for its principal benefactor, will host events for people of all faiths to explore art, music, and spiritual formation, as well as important issues of social and racial justice. Key initiatives include a new Racial Justice & Spirituality Residential Program for Community Leaders, which will be led by the Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., the Cathedral’s Canon Missioner and Minister for Equity and Inclusion. The program, which will last four days in late 2022, will bring together a diverse group including faith leaders, business leaders and first responders for open and honest conversations about racism, society and our world. 

“This campaign is an important investment in our congregation, community, and ongoing programming,” said Andrew C. Florance, the previous chair of the Cathedral Chapter, who along with his wife, Heather, donated $5 million toward the Center’s construction and renovation. 

“Through this campaign and through this amazing new Virginia Mae Center, people can come together, learn from each other and leave equipped to help repair the world.” 

The Cathedral’s great organ, which was installed in 1938, will also be completely renovated using funds from the campaign. The renovation will address the breakdown of the instrument over nearly a century of service and will consist of maintaining key original elements of the organ while adding newer parts, preserving the historic instrument for years to come. The new additions to the organ will be handcrafted and robust, producing a louder, warmer sound from the musical anchor of the Cathedral.  

Other key initiatives of the $150 million campaign include work that is already underway, including investments in digital technology to reach a national and international audience that dramatically expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic; overhauling the Cathedral’s audio system to give visitors and worshippers better access to speakers and musicians; priority preservation needs and fire and life safety measures; and expanding racial justice programming, including new stained glass windows scheduled to be installed in 2023 by renowned African American artist Kerry James Marshall.