The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

History of the Chaplaincy

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 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.

Since the election of Rev. Linn in 1789, the House has been served by chaplains of various religious denominations, including Baptist (7), Christian (1), Congregationalist (3), Disciples of Christ (1), Episcopalian (4), Lutheran (1), Methodist (16), Presbyterian (15), Roman Catholic (2), Unitarian (2), and Universalist (1).

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.

Chaplains of the House

Date of Appointment Chaplain Denomination
May 1, 1789 The Reverend William Linn Presbyterian
Dec 10, 1790 The Reverend Samuel Blair Presbyterian
Nov 5, 1792 The Reverend Ashbel Green Presbyterian
Nov 27, 1800 The Reverend Thomas Lyell Methodist
Dec 10, 1801 The Reverend William Parkinson Baptist
Nov 30, 1804 The Reverend James Laurie Presbyterian
Dec 4, 1806 The Reverend Robert Elliot Presbyterian
Oct 30, 1807 The Reverend Obadiah Bruen Brown Baptist
May 27, 1809 The Reverend Jesse Lee Methodist
Nov 13, 1811 The Reverend Nicholas Snethen Methodist
Nov 6, 1812 The Reverend Jesse Lee Methodist
Sep 23, 1814 The Reverend Obadiah Bruen Brown Baptist
Dec 7, 1815 The Reverend Spencer Houghton Cone Baptist
Dec 5, 1816 The Reverend Burgess Allison Baptist
Nov 16, 1820 The Reverend John Nicholson Campbell Presbyterian
Dec 10, 1821 The Reverend Jared Sparks Unitarian
Dec 10, 1822 The Reverend John Breckenridge * Presbyterian
Dec 8, 1823 The Reverend Henry Biddleman Bascom Methodist
Dec 9, 1824 The Reverend Reuben Post Presbyterian
Dec 13, 1830 The Reverend Ralph Randolph Gurley Presbyterian
Dec 13, 1831 The Reverend Reuben Post Presbyterian
Dec 12, 1832 The Reverend William Hammett* Methodist
Dec 9, 1833 The Reverend Thomas H. Stockton Methodist
Dec 10, 1834 The Reverend Edward Dunlap Smith Presbyterian
Dec 24, 1835 The Reverend Thomas H. Stockton Methodist
Dec 20, 1836 The Reverend Oliver C. Comstock* Baptist
Sep 12, 1837 The Reverend Septimus Tustin Presbyterian
Dec 11, 1837 The Reverend Levi R. Reese Methodist
Feb 2, 1840 The Reverend Joshua Bates Congregationalist
Dec 15, 1840 The Reverend Thomas C. Braxton Baptist
Jun 9, 1841 The Reverend John W. French Episcopalian
Dec 13, 1841 The Reverend John Newland Maffit Methodist
Dec 14, 1842 The Reverend Frederick T. Tiffany Episcopalian
Dec 16, 1843 The Reverend Isaac S. Tinsley Baptist
Dec 4, 1844 The Reverend William M. Daily Methodist
Dec 22, 1845 The Reverend William Henry Milburn Methodist
Dec 17, 1846 The Reverend William T.S. Sprole Presbyterian
Dec 6, 1847 The Reverend Ralph Gurley Presbyterian
Dec 9, 1851 The Reverend Littleton F. Morgan Methodist
Dec 6, 1852 The Reverend James Gallaher Presbyterian
Dec 7, 1853 The Reverend William Henry Milburn Methodist
Feb 21, 1856 The Reverend Daniel Waldo Congregationalist
Jul 5, 1861 The Reverend Thomas H. Stockton Methodist
Dec 10, 1863 The Reverend William Henry Channing Unitarian
Dec 5, 1865 The Reverend Charles B. Boynton Congregationalist
Mar 9, 1869 The Reverend John George Butler Lutheran
Dec 6, 1875 The Reverend I.L. Townsend Episcopalian
Oct 15, 1877 The Reverend John Poisal Methodist
Dec 3, 1877 The Reverend W.P. Harrison Methodist
Dec 5, 1881 The Reverend Frederick Dunglison Power Disciples of Christ
Dec 4, 1883 The Reverend John Summerfield Lindsay Episcopalian
Dec 7, 1885 The Reverend William Henry Milburn Methodist
Aug 7, 1893 The Reverend Samuel W. Haddaway Methodist
Nov 1, 1893 The Reverend Edward B. Bagby Christian
Dec 2, 1895 The Reverend Henry N. Couden Universalist
Apr 11, 1921 The Reverend James Shera Montgomery Methodist
Jan 30, 1950 The Reverend Bernard Braskamp Presbyterian
Jan 10, 1967 The Reverend Edward G. Latch Methodist
Jan 15, 1979 The Reverend James D. Ford Lutheran
Mar 23, 2000 The Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin Roman Catholic
May 25, 2011 The Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, S.J. Roman Catholic

* Reverend John Breckenridge’s last name has been spelled “Brackenridge” and “Breckinridge” in various sources.

Visit the Prayer Archive to view the First Prayer of the Continental Congress.