U.S. Flag

Chaplain of the Senate

Chaplain ZeBarney Phillips

The Senate chaplain opens each daily session with a prayer. Following the example of the Continental Congress, the United States Senate inaugurated this practice on April 25, 1789, when it elected the Reverend Samuel Provoost, Episcopal bishop of Maryland, as its first official chaplain. Since that time, the chaplain has performed marriages, officiated at funerals, and served as spiritual guide and confidante to senators and staff. In times of war or crisis, the chaplain’s benediction provides reassurance and strength to the Senate community. “Bless Thou the Congress with intuition and courage,” prayed the Reverend ZeBarney T. Phillips on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “…have in Thy holy keeping those who have given their lives in the service of our country.”