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Kyl Leading Senate Chaplain Search

Finalists Will Get Chance to Lead Opening Prayer for a Day

With less than two months left in the Rev. Lloyd Ogilvie’s tenure as Senate Chaplain, the search is on for his replacement.

Ogilvie will step down March 15, the eighth anniversary of his first day on the job. Although he announced his intention to leave the post in November, the process of selecting the 62nd Senate Chaplain is only just beginning.

Before his unexpected elevation to Majority Leader, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) had been tasked with heading the committee in charge of vetting Chaplain candidates. After his move into the top leadership post, Frist handed the Chaplain search off to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Joining Kyl on the search panel are Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

The group distributed a “Dear Colleague” letter Dec. 17 advising Senators to tell potential candidates to send their “letters of interest” by last Wednesday.

David Corn, Ogilvie’s chief of staff, said Thursday the office had received a “stack” of applications that would be forwarded to the five Senators for their review. The group hopes to have a successor in place by the time Ogilvie steps down.

The holder of the post is tasked with providing pastoral services to Senators and their families, leading the chamber’s opening prayer each day and performing a host of other ceremonial functions.

Though it hasn’t yet gone through all the applications, the panel has already begun scheduling interviews, and some candidates will be given a chance to audition by leading the Senate’s opening prayer for a day.

Dale Meyer, a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister and professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week that he had scheduled a Feb. 11 interview with the search committee and would also lead the day’s prayer.

“I am not sure what the Lord thinks of a tryout prayer, but that’s what it is, an audition,” he told the paper.

Meyer is the former host of “The Lutheran Hour,” a long-running syndicated gospel radio program.

If he is selected, Meyer wouldn’t be the first Senate Chaplain with a media background. Before coming to the Senate, Ogilvie had been a highly successful Hollywood-based television and radio minister, hosting a nationally syndicated show called “Let God Love You.”

Ogilvie was the second consecutive Senate Chaplain who had previously served as pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, Calif. His predecessor as Chaplain, the Rev. Richard Halverson, held the Senate post from 1981 through 1995 and had also served at First Presbyterian.

The last Hill Chaplain search turned out to be surprisingly controversial. In 2000, the House selected Catholic Daniel Coughlin to fill its own pastoral post, but only after the earlier selection of another candidate had prompted accusations, angrily denied by the GOP leadership, of anti-Catholic bias in the selection process.

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