White House Hosts Multi-Denominational Easter Prayer Breakfast

(White House/Pete Souza)President Barack Obama delivers remarks before the Easter Prayer Breakfast, in the East Room of the White House, April 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by P)

President Barack Obama hosted leaders of diverse Christian denominations at the White House on Wednesday.

"To all the faith leaders from across the country – from churches and congregations large and small; from different denominations and different backgrounds – thank you for coming to our third annual Easter prayer breakfast," Obama said.

In a seven minute speech, Obama said he had "seen firsthand some of the outstanding work that you are doing in your respective communities, and it's an incredible expression of your faith."

Obama said that during his travels, people often tell him that "we're praying for you. We got a prayer circle going. Don't worry keep the faith." He said his wife hears it as well and it means a lot to him.

"And it's a reminder not only of what binds us together as a nation, but also what binds us together as children of God," he said.

Obama also his reflection on Easter.

"It's an opportunity to reflect on the triumph of the resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of grace. And for me, and I'm sure for some of you, it's also a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured -- not just as a Son of God, but as a human being," he said.

Later he said: "It's only because He endured unimaginable pain that wracked His body and bore the sins of the world that He burdened -- that burdened His soul that we are able to proclaim, "He is Risen!"

"So the struggle to fathom that unfathomable sacrifice makes Easter all the more meaningful to all of us. It helps us to provide an eternal perspective to whatever temporal challenges we face. It puts in perspective our small problems relative to the big problems He was dealing with. And it gives us courage and it gives us hope.
He also added: "We are here today to celebrate that glorious overcoming, the sacrifice of a risen savior who died so that we might live. And I hope that our time together this morning will strengthen us individually, as believers, and as a nation."

A White House reported to McClatchy journalist Lesley Clark that among the invited guests were: Pastor Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archdiocese of Washington DC; Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox Church; Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta; Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Julius Scruggs, President, National Baptist Convention; Noted Christian artist Sara Groves.

Sojourners magazine reported other participants included the Rev. Al Sharpton, and U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook.

The aide said there were "heads of major denominations, non-profit leaders and prominent mainline, Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic leaders from across the spectrum."

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