President Obama hosted an Easter prayer breakfast Tuesday morning that was attended by prominent Christian leaders from across the nation.
Some 90 people, including Pastors Joel Osteen and Bill Hybels, attended the White House event.
The president, keeping to his religious theme of inclusivity, noted that the Easter prayer breakfast with Christian clergy is part of a broader effort to welcome people of all faiths to the White House. In the past few months, he pointed out, he has hosted an Iftar at the White House with Muslim Americans to break the daily fast during Ramadan and a Seder to mark the first Passover.
In his brief remarks Tuesday, Obama shared what Easter means to him. The president said he is continually learning that everyone, including himself, is imperfect and "falls short of how we ought to live."
"But as Christians, we believe the redemption can be delivered – by faith in Jesus Christ," he said. "And the possibility that redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character, make whole the incompleteness of a soul. Redemption makes life, however fleeting here on Earth, resound with eternal hope."
The president recalled how Jesus said in his final moments on Earth, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
Obama encouraged those present for the Easter breakfast to also commit their spirit "to the pursuit of a life that is true, to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord."
"And when we falter, as we will, let redemption – through commitment and through perseverance and through faith – be our abiding hope and fervent prayer."
Other Christian leaders who attended the Easter prayer breakfast included Commissioner Israel Gaither, national commander of the Salvation Army; Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston; Dr. Arturo Chavez, president of the Mexican American Catholic College; the Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Dr. Julius Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches.
Correction: Monday, April 26, 2010:
An article on April 6, 2010, about the Easter prayer breakfast hosted by President Obama incorrectly reported the title of one of the Christian leaders. Dr. Julius Scruggs is president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., not the National Baptist Convention of America.