Obamas, Bidens attend national prayer service - New York News

Obamas, Bidens attend national prayer service at Washington National Cathedral

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WASHINGTON -

President Barack Obama began the first full workday of his second term with a rousing, spiritual appeal for unity and strength from church leaders of different faiths.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were joined by their wives Tuesday at the Washington National Cathedral for the traditional post-inaugural national prayer service. There were prayers for those who govern, those in the armed forces and the nation as a whole.

For Obama and Biden: "Make them bold for the work you have set before them," said Kathryn Lohre, president of the National Council of Churches.

And "when you feel your lowest, don't give up," Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., told the president in an engaging sermon that drew laughter and applause among the 2,200 people gathered at the soaring cathedral.

Hamilton said the nation, its leaders and people need to rise above their differences and find common ground -- a national vision that unifies the country.

He said Obama has been blessed with a unique vision. "You should have been a preacher," Hamilton told Obama.

The Washington Performing Arts Society's children's choir sang "Determined to Go On" to delighted guests as Obama and first lady Michelle Obama bobbed their heads along with the music.

A range of faiths was represented among speakers at the cathedral service, including the Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly and Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

It was the third straight day of religious worship for Obama surrounding his second inauguration, including Sunday and Monday at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and St. John's Episcopal Church, respectively.

The 106-year-old Episcopal church has long hosted presidential inaugural services. It was also the site of funerals for former presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his last sermon there in 1968.

Earlier this month, the cathedral said it would begin hosting same-sex weddings.

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By JENNIFER C. KERR Associated Press

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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