The Obamas Attend Sunday Church Service in D.C.

By MichaelJames

Jan 18, 2009 2:11pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

The Obama family made the first step in finding a new church home in Washington, DC -– attending a Sunday church service at 19th Street Baptist Church in Northwest this morning –- one of the oldest and most historic African-American churches in the district.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama, their daughters, and Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, received a standing ovation as they walked into the sanctuary as the choir sang.

A female associate pastor led a prayer which she ended –- appropriately using a campaign slogan from Mr. Obama –- “Yes we can, in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen."

During the service the president-elect sang along to well-known hymns such as “Blessed Assurance.”  At one point the congregation burst into applause when, concluding a reading by the children’s choir, a little boy stepped to the microphone and said, "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last."

Obama met with the pastor, Dr. Derrick Harkins, his wife, Juli Harkins, and the Harkins’ two children, before coming into the sanctuary.

The Obamas quit their longtime church -– Trinity United Church of Christ in the South Side of Chicago –- in May 2008 amid controversial surrounding their pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Weight, and his incendiary remarks from the pulpit. Since then the Obamas have not been regulars at church. Aides say the Obamas practice Bible study at home.

While campaigning in late August, Mr. Obama attended church in Lima, but today marks the future first family’s first step in Washington to finding a permanent place to worship.

“The Obamas are honored to worship this Sunday at 19th Street and look forward to learning more about many churches in the District,” Obama’s director of religious affairs, Joshua DuBois said. “They will choose a church home at a time that is best for their family.”

In an interview this month with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Obama said that he and his wife will be visiting some churches to see what’s comfortable –- not just for them but for the church’s congregants.

“It is tougher as president,” Obama said. “You know, this is not just an issue of going to church, it’s an issue of going anywhere. You don’t want to subject your fellow church members, the rest of the congregation, to being magged every time you go to church. And so, we’re going to try to be balancing, not being disruptive to the city, but also saying we want to be part of Washington D.C."

– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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