President and First Family Worship at Metropolitan on Eve of Inauguration

Clergy in the pulpit during the Worship Service with the First Family President Barack Obama and the first family worshipped at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church on Sunday shortly before he took the official oath of office for a second term at the White House.

Led by senior pastor Rev. Ronald E. Braxton and assistant pastor, Rev. Marie P. Braxton, nearly 2000 members and visitors welcomed the president for the dual celebration of his second inauguration and the holiday honoring the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pastor Braxton’s sermon, building on the president’s theme for his second term, was entitled, “When Forward is the Only Option,” and may be viewed on our YouTube channel.

The service received wide media attention and the church’s website broke previous records for the number of viewers. The Michigan Chronicle called the visit “significant” not only because it marked Metropolitan’s l75th anniversary year but also because “it underscores Obama’s faith posture, which came under fire during his first term in office with some of the religious right questioning his faith.”

Metropolitan’s leaders voiced regret that some of its congregants were unable to gain access to the church. Despite waiting up to three hours for the service to begin, however, the congregation inside was in high spirits. “The songs really highlighted the importance of the faith tradition to our country–especially the Battle Hymn of the Republic,” said Dakarai Aaron, a lifelong member of the church. “While there was certainly a lot of excitement and pride in having the Obama family join us in worship, our congregation did not turn the service into a political rally. We remained focused on celebrating God’s favor and asking God to bless our leaders as they begin a new chapter in their work to solve some of the nation’s biggest challenges.”

It was the first family’s second visit in two years. However, President Obama’s choice of Metropolitan on such an historic occasion turned another exciting page in the storied history of the church. [see “Metropolitan: A Brief History"]. The National Cathedral of African Methodism is not only a major center of worship but its strategic location reinforces the wisdom of the former enslaved persons who built and founded the church. They designated it to be of national character “in close proximity” to the nation’s points of power—the White House and the Capitol. The church’s dedication to continuing to be in the forefront of the civic, cultural, and intellectual life of African Americans will be on display through 2013 as it celebrates its 175th anniversary. View more photos of this historic day.