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Church and State: UCC in District Reflects on Obama

Sen. Barack Obama's name was never spoken from the pulpit at the People's Congregational United Church of Christ in Northwest Washington yesterday.

But People's Rev. Rubin Tendai couldn't resist making one reference to Tuesday.

"I don't have to tell you to get out and vote, just take someone with you. This is a historic election," said the interim pastor.

The church is in the same denomination of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's former congregation where the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright presided.

People's congregation members had a lot more to say than their pastor about the impending vote.

Diane Miller, a deacon at People's, said though the United Church of Christ was wrongly depicted by media she doesn't fault Obama for leaving.

"We understand. He did what he had to do," she said.

The Rev. Leslie Dowdell-Cannon, a native of Chicago and senior associate minister at People's, said Trinity paid a heavy price during the controversy. "It has been very painful; the congregation went through a lot of abuse."

Many of People's members would welcome Obama in the White House, and said they have high expectations that he will focus on international as well as domestic issues.

"I hope that the next administration will take a greater interest in the suffering that is around the world not just in certain countries, but countries in Africa, Asia and third world countries," said Yvonne Hinkson, who is part of a group of church members that dedicated a tent yesterday that will be sent to Dafur through the "Tents of Hope" program.

Even though Krysten Thomas, 17, can't vote, the former president of People's Youth, believed that Obama could turn around the situation in Darfur.

"I canvassed for Obama in Virginia because D.C. is already locked down," she said.

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  November 3, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Presidential Race  
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