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House History

Chaplains of the House

(1789 to Present)

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers."

The election of the Rev. William Linn as Chaplain of the House on May 1, 1789, continued the tradition established by the Continental Congresses of each day's proceedings opening with a prayer by a chaplain. The early House Chaplains alternated duties with their Senate counterparts on a weekly basis. The two conducted Sunday services for the Washington community in the House chamber every other week.

In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, the Chaplain provides pastoral counseling to the House community, coordinates the scheduling of guest chaplains, and arranges memorial services for the House and its staff. In the past, Chaplains have performed marriage and funeral ceremonies for House members.

Two Chaplains also served as U.S. Representatives (indicated by asterisks) either prior to or after their service as House Chaplain. By clicking on their names, viewers will be linked to their individual biographies in the online Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.


Date of Appointment Chaplain Denomination

 

* From 1855 to 1861 the local clergy in the District of Columbia conducted the opening prayer. Thereafter, the House has elected a Chaplain at the beginning of each Congress.


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