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Watch Ed Gainey's inauguration

Mayor-elect Ed Gainey speaking at an interfaith prayer service on Jan. 2, 2021.
Mayor-elect Ed Gainey speaking at an interfaith prayer service on Jan. 2, 2021.

Note: WESA will be livestreaming Ed Gainey's mayoral inauguration at 1 p.m. today, on this page. You can also livestream it via the city's Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, as well as on Comcast channel 13 and Verizon channel 44.

Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor, will be sworn at 1 p.m. this afternoon. His inauguration comes a day after hosting an interfaith service that, he told viewers, could serve as a model for his efforts to unify the city. 

“I believe that a city for all starts with our faith,” he said. “I think praying over our city helps us to pray in a spirit of unity … We have more in common than we have that’s different. This is how we come together. This is how we become unified.”

It was a theme that echoed throughout Gainey’s successful bid for mayor last year, and one that was woven through a 45-minute service that featured faith leaders from a number of denominations: Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Jewish — not to mention a prayer in Sanskrit. 

“May our challenges be met with dignity and civility, respect and compassion,” said William Curtis, the pastor of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. “May we tackle the tough issues of race and class, and gender and sexuality with extreme care. … May what divides us be conquered by the strength of those things that unite us.”

Gainey’s swearing-in will include a speech and pre-recorded content, his transition team said Sunday, and will be followed by an initial press conference. Public access to the event will be limited, but it will be aired by the city’s cable channel and carried on its social media accounts. Gainey is also slated to make remarks Monday morning after the four members of Pittsburgh City Council who were re-elected to new terms last year are sworn in.

That ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. and will feature performances of “America the Beautiful” and "The Star Spangled Banner,” according to the agenda. Council’s four returning members — Theresa Kail-Smith, Anthony Coghill, Daniel Lavelle, and Erika Strassburger — will be sworn in. Council will then select the coming term’s president, who will make committee assignments for each of the eight remaining members. 

Gainey’s inauguration will take place amid hopes that a city that has recovered — and arguably exceeded — the prosperity of the Big Steel era can find more equitable ways to share that wealth. Those expectations were on display Sunday, as faith leaders spoke on themes such as compassion and community. And some, like Michael Smith of Destiny International Ministries, underscored the urgency of the moment. 

Smith recounted a visit to Homewood this weekend, where three people were found shot to death inside a home. He spoke of trying to counsel a grieving woman there.

“I couldn’t offer anything but faith, hope and love. I couldn’t offer her affordable housing, I couldn’t offer her one of those new gentrified homes in Homewood. I couldn’t offer her a better Westinghouse” High School. 

Still, he said, “My prayer is that we become a city known [for] faith, hope and love” — the values that sustained the Black community through centuries of oppression. 

John Knight, senior pastor of Bright Side Baptist Church and Gainey’s own pastor, closed with a prayer in which he said Gainey was the ideal person to deliver on that hope. 

”I’ve had the privilege of watching his vision evolve … and now come to fruition of building a city that’s for all people,” he said. “I’m excited for the city of Pittsburgh because he has a vision and plan … to provide a space in which one people can come together.”

“To build a city takes all of us,” Gainey said at the close of Sunday's event. “The more relationships we build, the better city we have. … Not by me but by we, together we will change this city to make it a city for all.”

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.