Obamas Worship on Easter Sunday

Just as millions of Americans did this Easter Sunday, President Obama and his family spent their morning attending church services in Southeast Washington, DC.

The President recently announced, after more than a year of speculation in the media, that the First Family will not dedicate themselves to just one church while living in Washington. The decision was made, Mr. Obama said, due to the disruption the Commander-in-Chief's presence causes when he tries to attend services.

So it was anyone's guess where the Obamas would choose to worship today.

In the end, the decision was a timely one. It was Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the self-described, "Cathedral of Southeast", that welcomed the First Family Sunday.

Southeast Washington has been on edge after a mass shooting of nine people that left four dead last Tuesday. Pastor Michael E. Bell, Sr. told parishioners it was "no accident" that the President chose to worship at Allen Chapel Sunday. He said his presence is bringing hope to the community that "Southeast is not forgotten."

But most of the service was about joy and resurrection.

Pastor Bell told parishioners that everyone in the room had been knocked down every now and then but "resurrection allows you to get back up," saying, "Jesus got up from the grave."

No matter how dismal things are, Bell said, you can declare "it's not over".

President and Mrs. Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, and the First Lady's mother, Marian Robinson, entered the chapel to a swaying choir singing "hallelujah" to a live band. One speaker topped off the service asking to be excused because "we might get excited."

"You might see shoes flyin'...or hair flyin'," she said.

The Obamas sat for the energy-filled hour-and-45-minute service while both the Pastor and Minister Ernest Pugh belted out songs. Pugh even hit notes that could rival Mariah Carey's five octive range.

Mrs. Obama's mother is familiar with AME churches, said the Pastor. "I received word that Sister Robinson is a true AME-er," he boasted.

But Pastor Bell also heaped praise on the President, thanking God for a man he called "charismatic", "debonair" and "suave."

Bell left time to praise Mr. Obama's children and his "beautiful, beautiful wife."

"TV doesn't do her justice," he said.

He continued, citing her work in obesity prevention. Later, Bell urged parishioners to exercise ten minutes a day or possibly 30 minutes a day, three times a week.

At the end of the service, as sunlight gleamed through the stained glass windows framing the chapel, the First Family knelt in prayer and the President was seen taking communion.