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Clergy line up for job in Senate

WANTED: Person of the cloth to write and deliver a two-minute non-political prayer to open the U.S. Senate each day. Pastoral counseling included for flock of 100 senators and 6,000 staffers on Senate side. Women encouraged to apply. Current salary: $115,700.

Senate Chaplain Richard C. Halverson, a Presbyterian minister, has held the job for 14 years and is retiring at the end of the year because of poor health.

Not surprisingly, there's tremendous interest in the well-paid job, with telephones ringing wildly and resumes flying through fax machines each time Halverson's retirement is written about. Sheepishly, clergy from around the country call the chaplain's office inquiring about the job. Some claim God has chosen them; others see it as an intimate opportunity to lobby for the Lord; some simply want to minister to the Senate.

His son, Rev. Richard C. "Chris' Halverson Jr., 50, is seriously being considered, according to chaplain assistant Martie Kinsell.

Nothing is likely to happen to resolve the Senate's chaplain dilemma until December. Traditionally, the Senate majority leader finds a replacement. But Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) is also retiring. So who will choose Halverson's successor is unclear.

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