The Rev. Adam Hamilton, who pastors the largest United Methodist church in the United States, will preach the sermon at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service next Tuesday, the Inauguration committee announced Friday.
Hamilton is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, which has grown to 16,000 members in twenty years. The church was listed as the most influential mainline church in America based on a 2005 survey of pastors.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will attend the January 22 National Prayer Service, a historic observance at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. A description of the event on the inauguration website reads: "The President's faith plays an integral role in his life, and the service will celebrate the role of people of faith in American life."
"The National Prayer Service is an important tradition in the United States," Hamilton said in a statement released by the Presidential Inauguration Committee. "I am honored and humbled to have been asked to deliver the message for this service as President Obama and Vice President Biden begin their second term."
Hamilton grew up in the Kansas City area as a Catholic and converted to Christianity as a teen. He earned Bachelor's degree in Pastoral Ministry from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.
Hamilton welcomes gays and lesbians at his church and has advocated for his denomination to change church doctrine on homosexuality, an issue that has taken center stage in Obama's inaugural events. Rev. Louie Giglio, who was slated to deliver the inaugural benediction, withdrew following controversy surrounding his views on homosexuality. Rev. Luis Leon of St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, where Obama and his family have frequently attended, will replace Giglio.
The United Methodist Church calls homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching" in the denomination's Book of Discipline. At the General Conference last year, Hamilton unsuccessfully proposed to remove that particular doctrine and replace it with language that acknowledged differing opinions on homosexuality within the church.
The Washington National Cathedral, a Episcopal church, announced last month that it would bless same-sex marriages.
"The tradition of the National Prayer Service honors the values and diversity that make America strong and we are privileged to have Reverend Hamilton's voice joining this celebration of the role of people of faith during the 57th Inauguration," said Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Hamilton is a best-selling author, with "Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White" selling nearly 1 million copies.