- (Photo: North Point via The Christian Post)
Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Georgia delivered a sermon Monday morning in a pre-inauguration service at St. John's Episcopal Church, where he told President Barack Obama that he should be called the "Pastor-in-Chief" for the way he has handled some of America's most tragic events.
The pre-inauguration service occurred behind closed doors, where no cameras or video devices were allowed, WXIA-TV reported, although notes from the press pool were made public.
Pastor Stanley, who leads 30,000 members at his church in Alpharetta, Ga., spoke about the responsibility leaders have when they realize that they are the most powerful person in the room.
"Mr. President you have an awfully big room," Stanley reminded Obama, who has often declared his Christian faith in public and said that he prays every day.
St. John's Episcopal Church's regular pastor, the Rev. Luis Leon, was chosen to replace Pastor Louie Giglio of Atlanta's Passion City Church to deliver the benediction at the president's inauguration ceremony later that day. He welcomed the first family, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife and others of the interfaith community into St. John's Monday morning.
Pastor Stanley apparently focused a major part of his sermon on Obama's response to the shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, in which a 20-year old gunman killed 26 students and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning the gun on himself.
Obama wiped away tears when he first announced news of the tragedy to America, and flew down to the grief-stricken town to console affected families.
During the pre-inauguration sermon, Pastor Stanley thanked the president for his work after the Newtown shooting tragedy when he spoke to mourners, according to press pool notes.
The press pool notes indicate that at one point the Georgia pastor joked, "For those of you who don't read the Bible, you should read it, even if you don't believe it."
The North Point Community Church leader then apparently shared the account in the Gospel of John about Jesus at the Last Supper, and said he was both "the most powerful person in the room" and at the same time acting as a servant by washing his disciples' feet and touching the "untouchable people."
"Now that I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash each other's feet," Stanley reportedly quoted Jesus as saying in John 13:14.
Stanley, whose father Charles Stanley leads First Baptist Church of Atlanta, also led a prayer in which he shared hopes that President Obama will "continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world."
A day later, the Rev. Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., delivered a sermon at the 57th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service on Jan. 22, saying: "God has given you a unique gift, Mr. President," the Rev. Hamilton said, according to the United Methodist Reporter. "Unlike any other President we've ever had, you have the ability to be to cast a vision and inspire people. You should've been a preacher."
Some other megachurch pastors in America, however, have voiced opposing opinions of President Obama. Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., tweeted on Inauguration Day: "Praying for our president, who today will place his hands on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."
Driscoll's tweet caused a great deal of debate on social media networks, with many Christian leaders rebuking him for "judging" the president's faith.