October 26, 2018 at 2:30 pm PST | by Michael K. Lavers
Matthew Shepard interred at Washington National Cathedral

Dennis and Judy Shepard at Washington National Cathedral in D.C. on Oct. 26, 2018. Their son Matthew’s ashes were interred in the church’s crypt. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The ashes of Matthew Shepard were interred in the Washington National Cathedral’s crypt on Friday during a private ceremony

Matthew Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, were among the thousands of people who attended a public service over which Washington Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde presided that took place before the interment. Retired New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who in 2003 became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, delivered an emotional homily.

“Gently rest in this place,” an emotional Robinson said at the end of his homily. “You are safe now…welcome home.”

Matthew Shepard died on Oct. 12, 1998, after Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson brutally beat him and left him tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyo.

Dennis and Judy Shepard have become vocal LGBT advocates through their work with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which they created after their son’s murder. Their son’s ashes had been in an urn because they were afraid anti-gay vandals would have targeted their son’s final resting place.

“It’s so important that we have a home for Matt,” said Dennis Shepard before the interment. “A home that others can visit; a home that is safe from haters, a home that he loved dearly from his younger days in Sunday school and as an acolyte at his church back home.”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Randi Driscoll, Conspirare, the Rock Creek Singers, the GenOUT Chorus performed during the service.

“We are honored today to celebrate his life again as we lay to rest, at last, his physical remains in this place which will forever protect and honor his physical remains while his soul is safe with God and his spirit lives forever,” said Budde.

The Shepards on Thursday officially donated some of their son’s papers and other personal items to the National Museum of American History. Hundreds of people a few hours later attended a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle that honored Matthew Shepard and his life.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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