For President Barack Obama’s last Easter Sunday in office, he took the first lady and his two daughters to a service at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church.
Led by Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the church is located in the oldest African American neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. It was founded in 1818 during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.
The Obamas arrived at the service in a motorcade right before 10:30 a.m. In front of a crowd of over 500 attendees, Rev. Wesley welcomed “the gorgeous family” back, as they had also visited the church last Easter, according to ABC News.
The choir — dressed in red, white and gold robes — sang songs celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ while clapping and swaying. Then, the reverend led the congregation in prayer.
Rev. Wesley’s sermon was a message on the hardships that Jesus suffered. He reminded the congregation that all believers should have hope that God will get them through their struggles “as long as Christ is alive.”
“No matter what you’re going through, you don’t have to be afraid because God can handle it,” he preached.
President Obama also released a statement on Sunday to wish all Christians a very Happy Easter.
“Michelle and I join our fellow Christians in observing Good Friday and celebrating Easter this weekend,” he said. “This is a time to remember the sacrifices made for us and hold all who suffer close to our hearts. Yet it is also a time to rejoice, give thanks for the Resurrection, and unite with Christians around the world in proclaiming, ‘Christ has risen; He has risen indeed.’ We wish all who celebrate a blessed and joyful Easter.”
After leaving the church, the first family went back to the White House, where the Easter Egg Roll was being prepared for Monday. Shaquille O’Neal and Idina Menzel are among this year’s guests.