FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Twenty years after his brutal murder, Matthew Shepard will be laid to rest in Washington, D.C.
Washington National Cathedral announced Thursday morning that Shepard's ashes would be interred at the Episcopal cathedral, which is also home to the remains of President Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.
A public celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. ET Oct. 26 before a private interment in the Cathedral crypt. The public service will be live-streamed.
The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and Episcopal Bishop of Washington Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde will preside over his service.
"Matthew's death on Oct. 12, 1998, shocked the conscience of the nation and electrified the LGBTQ movement," the church said in a statement on its website. "While Matthew died too young, his death nonetheless gave life to a new generation of activists and allies who are committed to proclaiming God's love for all of God's children – no exceptions or exclusions."
Shepard will be one of about 200 people who have been interred at Washington National Cathedral in the last century, including Wilson, Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan, U.S. Navy Adm. George Dewey and Bishop Thomas Claggett, who was the first Episcopal Bishop ordained on American soil.
A statement from Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard, on the website said the family has "given much thought to Matt's final resting place" and selected Washington National Cathedral because her son "loved the Episcopal church and felt welcomed by his church in Wyoming."
Shepard's funeral was held Oct. 16, 1998, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming. A church sign on the day of his funeral read: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Washington National Cathedral has been "a longtime supporter of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the church" and considers LGBTQ equality "one of the great civil rights issue(s) of the church in the 21st century," according to a release on its website.
The church hosted its first same-sex wedding in 2010. In 2014, it welcomed the Rev. Cameron Partridge, its first transgender preacher, to the Canterbury Pulpit.
"It's reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world," Judy Shepard said in her statement on the Washington National Cathedral website.
In the church's news release about Shepard's interment, dean of Washington National Cathedral Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith said the church is "honored and humbled" to be Shepard's final resting place.
"Matthew Shepard's death is enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are," he said.
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