Closing with prayer in Philadelphia

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A New York United Methodist minister and “pastoral friend” to 2016 U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton will give the closing prayer on July 28 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The Rev. William Shillady, a member of the New York Conference and director of the United Methodist City Society, said Clinton, herself a United Methodist, asked if he could offer the benediction following her speech on Thursday, the last day of the convention. A formal invitation from the Democratic National Committee followed.

Watch the Prayer

Watch the Rev. William Shillady give the benediction July 28 at the Democratic National Convention.

Shillady has known the Clinton family since 2002. Chelsea Clinton sometimes attended Park Avenue United Methodist Church on the upper east side of Manhattan, where he served as senior pastor from 1999 until Sept. 1, 2008, when he took the position at the City Society. He was co-officiant at her wedding to Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, New York, on July 31, 2010. He also led the memorial service for Dorothy Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s mother.

Clinton discussed the denomination’s mission work and her own faith journey as the keynote speaker for the City Society’s celebration of “175 Years of Mission in the City” in 2013.

Since Easter 2015, Shillady said he and, occasionally, a group of other writers that he coordinates, have sent Clinton a daily devotional and prayer.

Following the theme

Shillady and his wife, Judith, were to arrive July 27 in Philadelphia. Teleprompter practice for the roughly two-minute prayer is scheduled for Thursday morning. “Stronger together” is the convention theme that day. “My prayer will reflect that theme,” he noted, adding that he wanted the prayer to reflect more than one faith. “It’s much more universal. That’s appropriate for this setting.”

The prayer does have a few United Methodist-related references, however. Shillady said he includes a variation of the denomination’s long-time "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." welcoming and advertising campaign and references John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, in his closing lines.

The prayer also reflects on the challenge to overcome fear and hatred, he said, and instead abide by the teaching to love our neighbors and to work together to transform the world. 

Shillady was a General Conference delegate in 2012 and 2016 and is a member of the extended cabinet of the New York Conference. He was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a member of the Mayor’s Faith Leaders Advisory Council for the City of New York.

Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at or contact her at (615)742-5470 or [email protected]

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