On a few occasions in its history, the Senate has permitted the chamber where it was sitting to be used for purposes of a religious or charitable nature. March 16, 1822, the Chaplains of Congress were given permission to occupy the Senate Chamber on the following day "for the purpose of public worship." January 24, 1865, Bishop Simpson was tendered by unanimous consent the use of the chamber for the purpose of delivering a lecture. The next year, a resolution was offered to permit Mrs. M. C. Walling to use the chamber for the same purpose, the floor to be reserved for members of the Senate and House, and for their families. This resolution called forth much contention on the part of the Senators, but finally, May 8th, was reconsidered for the third time and passed, subject, however, to the condition that " hereafter the Senate chamber shall not be granted for any other purpose than for the use1 of the Senate." During the progress of the discussion over the Walling resolution, it seems the Senate permitted James E. Murdock, the distinguished actor, to use the chamber in giving a reading for the benefit of a fair in aid of the National Home for Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors.

The House, as early as November 19, 1804, resolved that in future no person, other than the Chaplain, be permitted to perform Divine service in its chamber without the consent of the Speaker. The first public use of the present Hall of Representatives, on December 13, 1857, was for Divine service, the Rev. G. D. Cummins officiating.