Obama opens 1st full day with prayer service

January 21, 2009 8:52:37 AM PST
Following tradition that dates to George Washington, President Barack Obama attended a national prayer service Wednesday as the capstone to a whirlwind of inaugural ceremonies. The Rev. Sharon Watkins, who is the first woman to give the event's sermon, urged Obama to set a national tone that will encourage making the right choices, such as loving God by loving one's neighbors.

"Lead us there, Mr. President. That is a journey worth pursuing," said Watkins, president and general minister of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

The new president and first lady Michelle Obama were in the front pew at the soaring National Cathedral. Joining them there were Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, were also in the front row.

The service included scripture readings and hymns delivered by religious leaders of a variety of faiths. The new president joined along as a children's choir stood near him and sang, "He's got the whole world in his hands."

Obama was not scheduled to make remarks. He attended the service after spending about 10 minutes alone in the Oval Office earlier in the morning and reading the personal note left for him by departing President George W. Bush.