Where Our Presidents Have Prayed
Abraham Lincoln rented his pew at this D.C. church for $50 a year during the Civil War
Just where does the president of the United States go to pray when he arrives in Washington for his term of office? Local churches have had the honor of creating a sanctuary for America’s presidents.
Many political leaders of our nation have said their prayers in reverence to God, including a vast number of politicians who have held the highest title in the land.
“I was blessed to be raised in a churched home.”
Almost half of the presidents have been Episcopal or Presbyterian. Many others have identified with other Christian denominations.
LifeZette visited some of the historic churches and locations where presidents have gone to worship.
Did you know that the United States Capitol served as a church building? Shortly after Congress held its first session in Washington, D.C. (after moving from Philadelphia) on December 4, 1800, Congress approved the space as a church building. However, regular church services had been taking place at the building even before Congress moved in.
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Built in 1816, St. John’s Episcopal Church in northwest Washington, D.C., has had an impressive lineup of guests. Located near The White House, it has hosted every sitting president for at least one church service.
Presidents including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump went to St. John’s for their final prayer before being inaugurated into office.
This year, President Donald Trump (the 45th president) attended a traditional pre-inaugural service there on the Friday morning before he was officially sworn into office.
The day after the inauguration, Trump attended an inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral in Northwest D.C. (This is also the same cathedral at which Ronald Reagan’s funeral was held in 2004.)
“I was blessed to be raised in a churched home,” Trump said recently at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. “My mother and father taught me that to whom much is given, much is expected.”
“I was sworn in on the very Bible from which my mother would teach us as young children, and that faith lives on in my heart every single day,” Trump added.
Richard Nixon is the only president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to not attend church service on inauguration day.
Another popular choice for presidents is the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, built in 1803. This church, also located near The White House, has been visited by many presidents, including William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon.
Abraham Lincoln paid $50 a year to rent a pew at New York Avenue Presbyterian. Lincoln’s funeral was held there after his assassination in 1865.
John F. Kennedy — the nation’s only Catholic president — attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. Kennedy’s funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.