January 16th, 2011
05:47 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
President Barack Obama publicly attended church on Sunday, an unusual move for a president who is accustomed to attending Sunday services at a private chapel at Camp David.
Obama and his family attended services at Washington's Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, about six blocks from the White House, which describes itself as the "National Cathedral" of African Methodism.
The service commemorated the 25th anniversary of the national holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a day before the holiday itself.
The Right Rev. Adam J. Richardson recognized Obama and his wife, Michelle, and praised the president for his speech to the Tucson, Arizona, community on Wednesday, in the wake of last weekend's deadly shooting there.
Despite intense media speculation about which Washington church Obama would join when he arrived in Washington, the White House has yet to announce that he has joined any.
Some White House watchers expected the first black president to join a black church.
Obama has attended four black churches since arriving in Washington: 19th Street Baptist Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Allen Chapel A.M.E Church and, on Sunday, Metropolitan A.M.E.
In September, Obama attended church publicly for the first time in six moths, though White House officials have said the president often quietly attends chapel at Camp David in Maryland.
Richardson's sermon was entitled "When God Singles You Out," and he preached about God singling out ordinary people for extraordinary things.
Founded in 1828, Metropolitan A.M.E was once attended by Frederick Douglass and played host to President Bill Clinton's inauguration service in 1993.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church is the country's oldest black denomination.
Obama had been a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago until spring 2008, when he left after videos surfaced showing his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, delivering controversial sermons about the United States.
Last fall, a major survey showed that a substantial and growing number of Americans believes that Obama, a self-described Christian, is Muslim.
Nearly one in five Americans believes Obama is a Muslim, up from around one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim last 2009, according to the survey, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans correctly identified Obama is Christian.
The survey was conducted in late July and early August.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.