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updated: 1/21/2013 9:37 AM

Obama starts inauguration day with visit to church

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  • President Barack Obama, waves as he walks with his daughters Sasha and Malia, first lady Michelle Obama and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, to St. John's Church in Washington, Monday.

      President Barack Obama, waves as he walks with his daughters Sasha and Malia, first lady Michelle Obama and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, to St. John's Church in Washington, Monday.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama began inauguration day listening to a church pastor counsel him to use his power to benefit others, and the nation.

It was part of the sermon at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, where Obama and his family attended services Monday morning.

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The presidential motorcade arrived shortly after 8:30 a.m. under crisp, cold skies outside the sanctuary. The president and first lady Michelle Obama emerged to pose briefly for photos with their daughters Sasha and Malia before entering the church. The first family sometimes attends Sunday worship at the church, which is across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden and his family also attended.

Inside, R&B singer Ledisi, a favorite of Mrs. Obama's, sang a solo titled "I Feel Like Goin' On."

The sermon was delivered by Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., who asked what one does when they realize they're the most powerful person in that room. "You leverage that power for the benefit of other people in the room," Stanley said.

To the president, he said: "Mr. President, you have an awfully big room. It's as big as our nation."

Obama stood for a blessing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the Tenth Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church. She prayed for the president to be a "soothing presence in the White House when the stress and strain of leadership seeks a resting place."

Obama exited to cheers from a waiting crowd, then headed back to the White House as time neared to take the oath of office for his second term.

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