By Niraj Warikoo
Sept. 4, 2012
A religious leader from Michigan — Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit — is to deliver the opening invocation tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“It’s an honor,” Metropolitan Nicholas, 59, told the Free Press after landing in Charlotte today. “It’s a unique privilege….. To me, this is part of the American dream.”
Nicholas, who heads the Greek Orthodox Church in Michigan, said he’s politically independent and supports bringing people together. Scheduled for 5 p.m., his invocation tonight will be for all backgrounds, regions and faiths, not just Orthodox Christians, he said.
“Coming from a Greek background, I learned (from the ancient Greeks) that man is a political animal,” said Nicholas, whose grandparents were Greek immigrants. “Good politics brings people together. Bad politics is divisive. We have to bring people together.”
“I’m here to offer a prayer on behalf of everyone, not just Orthodox.”
The national head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Demetrios, was initially asked to deliver the invocation at the Democratic convention. But he turned it down in order to be fair because he had also been asked to deliver an invocation at the Republican National Convention last week. Demetrios had a meeting in Turkey at the same time of the GOP convention and so was unable to make it. In his place, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston spoke at the Republican convention.
After consulting with Democratic leaders, Demetrios decided to name the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Detroit to speak in his place.
“It had to be someone of equal rank” to the Boston leader, Nicholas said.
At the Republican convention, Catholic, evangelical and Sikh leaders delivered invocations and benedictions. Religion has been a contentious issue during the presidential campaign this year. But Nicholas said his talk will not take political sides.
“I’m not here to enter a political fray,” Nicholas said. “I’m here to ask God to be present to help us do what is noble and just.”
Contact Niraj Warikoo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-223-4792
After 5 p.m., Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit gave the opening invocation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. I got a full copy of the pre-delivered remarks:
“O God most pure and Author of all creation; As you spoke to us of old, Speak to our hearts anew; You who had fellowship with Abraham and Sarah, Come and stay in our midst;
As You led your people through the wilderness,
Lead us now, as the Democratic National Convention opens its deliberations for the benefit of the people and the land of these United States;
You have brought us here from every place on earth, that Native Americans and Immigrant Americans, People of Color and of every Tongue, might find not just hope … but a land which seeks life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Grant to all here a deep and abiding respect for the task at hand, so that our common efforts will perfect our desire that law and government be for, by and of the people.
Assist us to set aside personal differences, so that our unity of purpose will rise above us all as an enduring symbol of freedom.
Let freedom reign in our hearts so that we would never fear to lead the oppressed to freedom; never fear to give shelter to the homeless and displaced; never fear to treat our neighbor as our selves; and never fear to give dignity and opportunity, as in Detroit and elsewhere in America, to the struggling unemployed and less fortunate brothers and sisters in this great land.
While our prayers and assistance are with those affected by Hurricane Isaac, we trust in You, O Lord, that your gracious love will be with our President, Barack Obama, with our Vice-President, Joseph Biden; with all of our public officials and those who serve the good of this Nation.
We ask also that You preserve and protect those who stand in harm’s way, as they defend and serve for the benefit of all.
Come and be with us, O Mighty God, as fortress and deliverer, so that through You, and by the faithful and strong leadership of our government, we shall rejoice knowing that our children and our children’s children will know peace and every blessing.
To You be glory forever. Amen.”