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Obama family get Easter communion at Episcopal Church. Pool report.

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WASHINGTON--The Obama family attended Easter Services at
St. John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House. Washington Times Christina Bellantoni, Sunday's pool reporter, tells us President Obama, First Lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia all took communion.

The Obama family has yet to settle on a new church. Last year, Obama quit his long time spiritual home, Trinity United Church of Christ in the wake of ongoing controversies with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The pool report...

From: Christina Bellantoni
Washington Times
Subject: Pool report 2

Happy Easter, folks.

News - President Obama and the First Family went to Easter Services at
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square. All four took communion.
Also, we have a lid.

Color - Not much, but some egg roll details below.

Tick-tock - At 10:48 the First Family emerged from the residence. From
where we were in the motorcade, we could only see FLOTUS Michelle Obama
and one of the Obama daughters. At that point we could not see outfits,
but later in church Mrs. Obama and the girls appeared to be wearing
matching white or cream-colored sweaters. The first lady was wearing a
white or cream-colored floral skirt or dress. POTUS wore dark suit even
though we spotted at least 4 parishioners in seersucker suits.

As the motorcade (en route less than 2 minutes) stopped and we ran to
catch up with POTUS, huge cheers erupted from the gathering Easter

We arrived at 10:53 am.

Service started right at 11, and from press pool spot in back pew, I at
first could not see POTUS or first family. Fortunately AP superstar, the
much-taller-than-me Phil Elliott, spotted POTUS. He sat at least six
rows back from the front of the church, and it was impossible to see the
girls even from standing position while everyone else was seated. Two
agents were seated in the pew behind POTUS.

Parishioners arriving went through two mags set up outside the entrance.
Your pool spotted several little girls in their Easter best with their
arms straight out as they went through security.

Rev. Luis Leon, rector, told congregants it was his 15th Easter service
at the church.

His sermon included references to famous poets E.E. Cummings and Emily
Dickinson, hating the New York Yankees and a shout-out to POTUS-picked
NCAA tournament winners the UNC Tarheels. Some quotes to follow in next
pool report.

A writer's pool only was allowed into the church while the others had to
wait with the motorcade.

The service was heavy with songs performed by lovely choir and brass
ensemble. Among the selected hymns - Alleluia, Jesus Christ is risen
today, A song of praise, Come, ye faithful, Welcome happy morning.

Readings were:
Exodus 14:10-14, 21-25, 15:20-21
Acts 10:34-43
Mark 16:1-8

A brief mention of President Obama in the program, which served for both
the 9 am and 11 am services.

During prayers of the people, led by Robert Black:

"Guide and bless us in our work and play, and shape the patterns of our
political and economic life; we pray for Barack, our President, the
leaders of Congress, and the Supreme Court, and all who are in
authority; for Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the Middle East, that all
people may be filled through the bounty of your creation."

Response from entire church: "We are your servants, O God. Guide us in
your grace."

Other than that, there was no mention of president during the service.

The president and first lady stood to briefly greet parishioners during
the "peace be with you" portion. FLOTUS had her hair down and straight.

We also could not see if they placed money in the offertory dish as it
went by. No one from press pew contributed.

As communion began, congregants snuck peeks at the president and his
family. For those wondering, the demographic was at least 90 percent

The first family stood to get in line for communion, all smiling.

POTUS went first with communion, followed by Sasha, Malia, and then
FLOTUS and an unidentified young girl who looked to be Malia's age.

Smiling wide and seeming to be in great spirits, POTUS returned to his
pew. He kept leaning over FLOTUS to talk to his daughters. Several
parishioners stopped to say hello to the first family during the long
communion session.

Pool escorted out at 12:21, and huge crowds had gathered behind police
tape lines on the corner of 16th and H and in Lafayette Park.

A few minutes later, POTUS left from same side door where he'd entered.

Motorcade rolled again at 12:29. Back at White House and stopped at
12:31. Lid called 12:33.

For more, visit church Web site at

Also per Phil - Obama attended a private service here the morning of the
inauguration. It's known as the church of the presidents.

Former President George W. Bush has attended services here.

Egg roll color:

Our gather time was around 10:20 and we walked to the south lawn
driveway where the motorcade was waiting.

Before getting in the van we caught an early glimpse of the egg roll
preparation for tomorrow.

Oversized cutouts in the shape of tulips framed the fountain on the
south lawn, where several makeshift fences, tents and a large stage have
been erected. Various stereo equipment and speakers have been set up in
spots on the lawn.

There's an "egg roll enter here" sign and oversized bunnies and other
signs sprinkled on the lawn.

As we waited for POTUS in the van, about a dozen young looking, barefoot
people were spotted on a colorful fabric mats on the lawn right in front
of the residence. They were stretching and doing both handstands and

One of the agents in our van said they were doing yoga practice in
preparation for a fitness demonstration at tomorrow's egg roll. The
agent said there also will be soccer and basketball.

When we returned back, we saw more yoga demonstrating and someone was
singing on the stage for a sound check. A young woman, sorry no news on
who it was.

Christina Bellantoni
White House correspondent
The Washington Times

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 12, 2009 1:34 PM.

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