First lady Michelle Obama told those gathered at the annual conference of the African Methodist Episcopal church in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday that what Christians do in the quieter moments of their lives is more important than just showing up for Sunday services once a week.
"Our faith journey isn't just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal," the first lady said to some 10,000 people. "It's about what we do Monday through Saturday as well, especially in those quiet moments, when the spotlight is not on us, and we're making those daily choices about how to live our lives."
"We see that in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't limit his ministry to the four walls of the church," she said. "He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day. He was out there spreading a message of grace and redemption to the least, the last, and the lost. And our charge is to find Him everywhere, every day by how we live our lives."
Mrs. Obama's comments may have something to do with the fact that the first family does not attend church on a regular basis. In author Ed Klein's new book, The Amateur, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obama's attended when they lived in Chicago, said the first family did not seem interested in attending church on a regular basis.
"These are not church people," Wright said of Barack and Michelle Obama. "As far as Michelle was concerned, that she was not brought up in the church, and as far as the couple themselves, the church is not very important to them."
In her address to the AME Church's 49th General Conference, the first lady turned her focus toward several civil rights icons including Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, including some former AME church members who championed civil rights over the past 150 years.
"I know that I am here today because of those heroes," she said. "My husband is in the White House today because of them. Because of those heroes, today my daughters and all our children and grandchildren can grow up dreaming of being doctors and lawyers, CEOs and senators, and yes, maybe even the president of the United States of America."
"So yes, we moved forward and we won those battles, and we made progress that our parents and grandparents could never have imagined," said Obama. "But today, while there are no more 'whites only' signs keeping us out, no one barring our children from the schoolhouse door, we know our journey is far from finished."
And in an election year that most political analyst believe will most likely hinge on a handful of key swing states, the first lady wasted no time in motivating those listening to encourage everyone they know to participate and vote in November.
"But let's be very clear, while we're tuning out and staying home on Election Day, other folks are tuning in. Other folks are taking politics very seriously. And they're engaged on every level. They're raising money. They're making their voices heard"
"What does that mean? That means being informed. It means following the news, and learning about who is representing us, and how our governments work. It means showing up to vote – and not just every four years, but every year in every election.
"So I want you to talk to your friends and your family, your neighbors," she said. "Talk to them. Talk to folks in the beauty salons, the barbershops, the parking lot at church. Tell them what's happening on the city council and out in Washington. Let them know. Find that nephew who has never voted – get him registered."
Later that day, the first lady left Nashville for Memphis, where she attended a fundraiser Thursday evening before returning to Washington, D.C.