As public ceremonies for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama begin today, District of Columbia Baptists are engaging the events in different ways. This is the second of a two-part series on D.C Baptists and their involvement with politics and being Baptist when attention is focused on the nation’s capital.
WASHINGTON — As District of Columbia Baptist churches considered an appropriate mission project to celebrate inauguration weekend, they decided on collecting food for those in need.
The D.C. Baptist Convention asked its 150 churches to participate in a food drive as a way to participate in the National Day of Service, which has become a weekend of service among many in Washington to honor Martin Luther King Jr. This year, the weekend of service coincided with inaugural events.
On Saturday, Jan. 19, D.C. Baptist volunteers helped package food, which will be distributed throughout the coming days.
“Inaugurations are a time of hope and celebration,” said Ricky Creech, executive director/minister of the D.C. Baptist Convention. “Yet, there are many people who are hungry in the national capital region and looking for signs of hope that their circumstances will change. While the nation marks the beginning of a new term in office for the president, we will provide food for hungry people as a way to help those in need and to honor and serve God.”
Baptist volunteers participated in the day of service at various sites, including Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, whose pastor, Kendrick Curry, also is president of the DCBC.
At Shiloh Baptist Church, the young adult ministry hosted a sold-out event on Jan. 19 featuring a special screening of the film The House I Live In, which details drug abuse as a public health concern in the United States. Special guests at the event included R&B singer John Legend, actor Danny Glover and music producer Russell Simmons.
Fort Washington Baptist Church in suburban Maryland celebrated worship on Jan. 20 with special speaker Michael Strautmanis, deputy assistant to President Obama and counselor for strategic engagement to the senior advisor.
“In addition to welcoming Michael Strautmanis, we did a number of things to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, and one of the saints will be hosting a black tie inaugural event Monday night,” said Darin Poullard, pastor of Fort Washington Church.
As the city prepares for large crowds, so did Baptist churches around the city. Calvary Baptist Church will host 200 inauguration volunteers throughout the day, as well as a group from David’s Chapel Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, visiting just for the event. The group from Austin also stayed at Calvary for the 2009 inauguration of President Obama and returned with another group of 30 people this year.
“It will be a busy day around here for Inauguration Day,” said Calvary’s church administrator, Paul Rosstead, who coordinated the groups. “Geographically we sit in a prime location that we are glad to be able to serve the city on such a historic day.”
D.C. officials are expecting anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 to attend the inauguration on the National Mall. Metro is running a 17-hour rush hour schedule with extra trains on most lines on Monday. After the swearing in on the steps of the Capitol, President Obama and his family as well as Vice President Joe Biden and his family will travel the one and a half miles to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, the parade route.
Both Obama and Biden will attend the inaugural National Prayer Service the next day at Washington National Cathedral. The service, which dates to George Washington, is expected to include prayers, readings, blessings and hymns recited by religious leaders. Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor in Leawood, Kan., known for his skilled preaching and centrist views, will deliver the sermon.
Leah Grundset Davis ([email protected]), associate pastor for congregational life at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, is a Religious Herald contributing writer.