COPY-Obama opens first full day with traditional prayer service

Associated Press - January 21, 2009 12:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - On his first full day as president, Barack Obama has been upholding a presidential tradition that dates to George Washington.

Accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, the president attended a national prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington this morning.

For the first time, a woman gave the sermon. The Rev. Sharon Watkins urged Obama to set a national tone that encourages making the right choices, such as loving God by loving one's neighbor. Imploring, "Lead us there, Mr. President," Watkins added, "That is a journey worth pursuing."

President Obama and the first lady said in a front row pew, alongside Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, were also in the front row.

The service included scripture readings and hymns delivered by religious leaders of a variety of faiths. And as a children's choir sang, "He's got the whole world in his hands," the new president joined in.

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