First Family Honors MLK at Washington DC Service

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia (partially seen at left) and Sasha attend church services at Zion Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza)

President Obama and his family participated in a lively worship service on Monday at a Washington, D.C. Baptist Church to honor the legacy of MLK Jr.

The President, his wife, and two daughters, Sasha and Malia joined the congregation at Zion Baptist Church as they observed what would have been the 83rd birthday of the slain civil rights leader.

The church's pastor, the Rev. Keith William Byrd, welcomed the first family in front of the congregation saying, "[The Obamas] came here to worship, and we want them to worship. Bless you and thank you for joining us."

Byrd's sermon was taken from the book of Matthew, chapter five, about the salt of the earth. Byrd urged the congregation to preserve the morality of society and be a "source of hope" amidst the present turmoil.

Concluding the service was Deacon Hendri Williams, who, reading from King's 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," said that the church is "not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."

King, a Baptist preacher and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is regarded by many as one of the greatest Christian leaders of his day. He was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in history, which he was received in 1964 at the age of 35, and was assassinated four years later at a hotel in Memphis, Tenn.

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