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Inauguration Morning Prayer Service to Take Place at St. John's

St. John's
U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush leave St. John's Episcopal Church with Rev. Luis Leon on inauguration day in 2005 (Reuters/Rick Wilking).

President-elect Barack Obama will attend a private prayer service the morning of his inauguration at the historic St. John’s Church on Lafayette Square, the traditional site for Inauguration Day prayer services for the president-to-be.

Kevin Griffis, spokesman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee, said today that the prayer service will not be open to the public.

St. John’s is known as the “Church of the Presidents” because every president since James Madison has worshipped there at some point. President Franklin Roosevelt started the tradition of going to church before taking the oath of office when he attended a service at St. John’s the morning of his inauguration. Since then, every president except Nixon has attended a worship service on Inauguration morning somewhere in the District.

St. John’s has been well-represented. Since Roosevelt, four other presidents have attended services at St. John’s on Inauguration morning, according to the church’s Web site: presidents Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The current church building, constructed in 1816, has undergone an extension renovation in recent months and only recently re-opened.

-- Jacqueline L. Salmon

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 13, 2009; 4:47 PM ET  | Category:  In the Community
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