January 18, 2009
Obama Surprises Church with a Visit
Barack Obama and his family surprised Nineteenth Street Baptist Church by attending its services this morning.
Director of religious affairs Joshua DuBois said in a statement that the Obama's "look forward to learning more about many churches in the District. They will choose a church home at a time that is best for their family."
Nikita Stewart and Hamil R. Harris give some background on the visit and the history of the church in the Washington Post.
As a midsize church, it's often a campaign stop, particularly for local politicians. Obama's visit there came after four weeks of secret planning, according to people involved in the discussions. Nineteenth Street has the kind of political and social mix that might have drawn the transition office to make it the place where the Obamas would worship two days before the inauguration.
Nineteenth Street Baptist originated at 19th and I streets NW, where slaves and whites worshiped together at Baptist Church of Christ. Later, white church members moved out, selling the property to a group of black Baptist ministers and others in 1839. They organized the "First Colored Church of Washington," later changing the name to Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in 1870.
Obama will also attend St. John's Episcopal Church on Tuesday, the morning of his inauguration.
Update: Joe Biden Vice worshiped and received communion today at the same Catholic church President John F. Kennedy attended they day of his inauguration, the Associated Press reports.