President Obama and his family today are making an unusual appearance in church, celebrating Easter at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, a two-hundred year old African America congregation in Alexandria, Virginia.
From the pool report:
We arrived at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria at 10:25 after an uneventful motorcade ride, with a few onlookers snapping photos as we drove past the Washington Monument.
When the pool entered into the church from the back it was a jubilant congregation packed full. Everyone was swaying, singing, and clapping to music played by a band that includes a drummer, bass player, and keyboardist. Some raised their hands up high.
A choir of about 70 people is up front, nearly everyone clad in purple. Two banners, on either side of a wooden cross, read, “Hallelujah” and “He Lives.” There are two large television screens showing video from the service, and lyrics to the hymns. The congregation is predominantly African American.
After the singing stopped, the pastor Dr. Howard-John Wesley came to the front.
“How fitting that on the day we celebrate the rising of our Lord and savior, we also welcome our sitting president,” he said, as the congregation began to applaud and also welcomed the First Lady.
The pastor encouraged the crowd to stay in their seats.
“This is not selfie time,” he said to laughter. “Let the brother worship in the house of God.”
During an infectious rendition of the hymn “He Lives,” the congregation rose as a soloist sang with passion and the keyboardist took a solo. POTUS rose to his feet, too, and he could be seen from behind bobbing his head, clapping, and swaying a bit.
Obama got a sermon he is sure to love, seemingly linking acceptance of Christ to agreement with Obamacare:
“Even today in our political landscape, a line in the sand is drawn forcing you to make a decision on where you stand,” he said. “Where do you stand with rights or same sex couples…where do you stand on gun reform, where do you stand with police body cameras? Where do you stand on affordable health care? Life has a way of making you make a decision.”
“Where you stand on the resurrection of Jesus Christ: You either believe it or you reject it,” he added.
Obama was back at the White House by noon.
The president almost never attends church. Easter is the only time of year they can be reliably expected to appear.