The Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl; the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori; and the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios, also offered prayers at other moments in the service.
“It was a conscientious effort to have a broad tapestry representing the faces of American religion,” said Rabbi David N. Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, in Washington.
The participants, prayers and even the hymns were chosen by a committee of Mr. Obama’s advisers on religious issues. Altogether, there were three rabbis because the committee wanted to have representatives from the Reform, the Conservative and the Orthodox branches of Judaism (the Orthodox branch usually prohibits participation in a prayer service in a Christian sanctuary).
The Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical who is president of Sojourners, a magazine and grass-roots organization based in Washington, said that he and other religious leaders were preparing for a dual role: to challenge the president on policies, and “to clear the way” so people will be prepared to accept the changes he institutes.