WASHINGTON - Prominent Christian leaders participating in the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service on Wednesday listed unity, international relations, and the economy as some of the areas they hope most to see positive change under the Obama administration in the next four years.
"What I hope from an Obama administration is the vision of wholeness that candidate Obama had articulated for us, of wholeness beyond division, of a unity that is deeper than division," said the Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, who delivered the sermon at the Inaugural Prayer Service, to The Christian Post after the event.
Watkins was the first woman to deliver the sermon at the traditional prayer service that follows a new president's inauguration. She is the general minister and president of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
"I hope that vision that he articulated as a candidate will be infused throughout his administration," she said. "And that it will affect how we function both domestically and globally."
The "wholeness" and unity she speaks of transcends political parties, countries, and religions to focus on the "human family" and that all people are "children of God." If a child somewhere is in need, for example, then it should matter to me even if it is not my biological child, Watkins explained.
What particularly stood out for her from Obama's inaugural speech on Tuesday was "the clear sense that he is our leader but we are a democracy and that we find our strength in going forward together as a whole people," Watkins said.
"I think that sense was what I expected to hear from him and I hope to keep hearing from him as we go forward," she added.
The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, the Dean of Washington National Cathedral where the prayer service was held, expressed a similar hope about greater unity, but emphasized international partnerships.
"My biggest hope is that this country can be once again a real partner with nations across the globe, that we can be friends and mutual supporters," said Lloyd after greeting the throngs of guests leaving the Cathedral."
Lloyd was impressed with Obama's serious tone but hopeful message on Tuesday, especially when the new president stated that if Americans and the international community work together then problems can be solved.
"I felt that ever since 9/11 our country has pulled back from a lot of strong relationships," Lloyd commented to The Christian Post. "And I feel that it is very important, ultimately, that we all support each other and are collaborators."
Meanwhile, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell hopes everything that Obama said in his inaugural speech will come true. In particular, he hopes the economy will be revived and that America will regain its confidence once again.
Caldwell is the senior pastor of the megachurch Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, and is perhaps popularly known as the pastor who officiated the wedding of former President George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna, last year. He is an outspoken and active Obama supporter, which raised some eyebrows because of his close ties to the Bush family.