THE WHITE House pool report is meant for journalists and media. Â Pool reporters follow the President and First Lady, the Vice President, too. Â There is a lead pooler as well. Never have I offered an entire pool report, but this is no ordinary day, and I’ve offered snippets in the past, as have many other political writers. Â I just thought you might find this interesting. It’s what happened, what was said and sung inside St. John’s Church earlier this morning.
Pool entered at 8:45. From the back row of the packed St John’s Church, pool could see the back of POTUS’ head but could not initially see any other members of the first family.
The service began with a 12 person choir in white robes singing a hymn (“The New Collosus”). Pastor Luis Leon, the church rector, then welcomed the congregation, saying the church was proud to have “hosted 11 times, since Roosevelt’s pre-inaugural.
After another hymn (“O God, our help in ages past,” sung by the full congregation), Pastor Joel Hunter delivered the opening prayer which included, “In your name we bless our president an Vice President and their families….use this service to consecrate not only them but those they serve…” He specifically mentioned members of the armed services as well.
Next was the Old Testament reading by Dr. Cynthia Hale, senior pastor at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA (Joshua 1:1-9), followed by another hymn (“Praise to The Lord, the Almighty”) and a reading of Psalm 139:1-13 by Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Next, the choir sang “Amazing Grace.” Then, the Gospel Reading (Matthew 6:25-34) by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington.
Next, R&B singer Ledisi (no last name) sang “I feel like moving on.” She wore a black dress with what looked like a black coat or cape with a large collar. She got very enthusiastic applause afterward.
Sermon by Pastor Andy Stanley from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, delivered the message. Highlights:
“Mr president, when Ledisi started singing you started smiling. i think may she should open up cabinet meetings…you can’t not smile when you hear music like that.” He joked that he was dressed casually because told to dress in accordance with tradition.
Thanked POTUS for work after Newtown shooting tragedy when he spoke to mourners. Said POTUS should be called “Pastor in Chief.”
He set up the rest of the message with “What do you do, when you’re the most important person in the room? You are the decision maker.” Told a story of Jesus moving from being most powerful in room to becoming a “servant,” washing disciples’ feet, mentioning Jesus touching “untouchable people.” he added an aside: “For those of you who don’t read the Bible, you should read it, even if you don’t believe it ” That elicited a very light chuckle from some in the crowd.
Said in Gospel of St. John Jesus washed disciple’s feet and said, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash each other’s feet.”
The takeaway: What do you do when in a position of power? “You leverage that power for the benefit of other people in the room,” he said. Added “Mr. President, you have an awfully big room. Prayed that POTUS would “continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world.”
Next, another hymn (“Be Thou My Vision” ) was sung by the entire congregation, standing.
Next, prayers for the nation (in which the congregation responded “hear our prayer” to Leon’s prayers for POTUS, VPOTUS, Supreme Court Justices and “officers of our courts, me.and women in armed services, and “us in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth”)
This was followed by the blessing of the President and Vice President by Bishop Vacti Mckenzie, Presiding Bishop, 10th episcopal district, African Methodist episcopal church. POTUS and VPOTUS each stood in front row to receive blessing with heads bowed, POTUS on left and VPOTUS on right end of first pew. Pastor listed members of first family ( including “Mrs Robinson) and VP’s family and said “breathe your spirt into these hearts, “bring us back into that unity of love which is the likeness of your nature, and “may we extend opportunities to those who cannot find their way brought the pitfalls and maze of our cultural landscape.” Also: “Bless this administration with both favor and grace” “give them the resources and people necessary to get the job done”
The altar was decorated with yellow flowers, 4 candles and a cross. An American flag hung on its left side. Above it was a large, multicolored stained glass window.