Barack Obama, long time UCC member, inaugurated forty-fourth U.S. President
January 20, 2009

Then-Senator Barack Obama, a 20-year member of the UCC, speaking to the 2007 General Synod in Hartford, Conn.

Barack Obama, who spent more than 20 years as a UCC member, is the forty-fourth President of the United States.

UCC churches serving the Washington D.C. area are joining in on the inaugural activities. Plymouth UCC in Washington held "The Continuation of Hope and Real Change" event on Sunday evening to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to celebrate the historic nature of Obama’s election.

Christ Congregational UCC in Silver Springs, Md. held an evening prayer service Monday evening at which prayers for the country were featured.

Inauguration day events include a prayer service and big-screen viewing of the swearing-in at Peoples Congregational UCC in Washington and a ball at Westmoreland UCC in Bethesda, Md.

In 2007, Obama delivered a keynote address at the UCC General Synod in Hartford, Conn., where he urged the Synod audience to be a voice of challenge. He also expressed thanks for the many years he spent as a member of Chicago’s Trinity UCC.

"God is still speaking," Obama said. “Challenging us to change not just our own lives, but change the world around us. We are [God’s] instrument. We are [God’s] vessel. We can bring about changes.”

Change was a major theme in the Obama campaign which capitalized on a growing dissatisfaction with Bush administration policies and the meltdown of financial markets in late 2008. The reply “yes we can” often followed calls for change, becoming the mantra of Obama campaign rallies.

Significant challenges are immediately present for the Obama administration. The continuation of an “economic stimulus” package aimed at bolstering the U.S. economy is anticipated as are decisions on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the prohibition of torture practices by the U.S. and shifting strategies in the wars being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though the Obamas have yet to make a decision regarding their church attendance in Washington, inaugural events have been punctuated by the inclusion of faith leaders from various traditions.

Obama's former longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, spoke at a chapel service at Howard University, while Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson prayed at a star-studded concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church and author of "The Purpose Driven Life," along with civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery will deliver the invocation and benediction, respectively, at Obama’s inauguration.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Minister and President, the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins was selected to deliver the sermon during President Obama’s Jan. 21 national prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Obama has chosen the Bible used at President Lincoln's first inauguration for his own swearing-in on Jan. 20, inaugural planners announced.

It will be the first time a president has used the historic Bible at an inauguration since it was first used by Lincoln himself in 1861.

"President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress had made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in," said Emmett Beliveau, executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.