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Locals inaugurate Obama with prayer

Praise, worship, mime and dance highlight event

Posted: January 23, 2009 7:41 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Church members from throughout Santa Clarita take part in the four-hour long prayer and singing service.

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About 300 local church attendees gathered for what was considered a jubilant pre-inauguration prayer, praise and worship event for President Barack Obama and the country at Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship in Canyon Country.

Praise, worship, mime and dance teams from several local churches and Christian centers ministered the event.

"This is a fairly small community, but it's amazing how busy we all get that we don't get a chance to see people we haven't seen in a long time," said Fellowship Pastor Julius Harper.

The atmosphere Monday was joyous and celebratory, Harper said.

"It was a great time for many of the church leaders to come together as one," he said.

No matter who voted for whom, it's important that Christians pray for President-elect Barack Obama, he said.

"As a church, we won't be involved in politics or supporting particular candidates, but we're told in the Scriptures to pray for kings and leaders and those in authority," Harper said.

"We recognize going into 2009, there are tremendous challenges facing those in authority, if you're simply relying on your own abilities, political ambition or intelligence to lead and guide you're not going to have success navigating through these difficult times," he said.

The inauguration had special significance for Valencia's Katherine Richardson as an African-American, she said.

"How wonderful to see him inaugurated the day after the day we officially celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday," she said. "Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and our other ancestors made this inauguration possible. And they accomplished what they did because of their faith in God. President Obama will be leading the nation through some difficult times, and he has difficult decisions ahead of him. He needs our prayers."

Richardson said the event was "just awesome."

"I'm very proud and happy to see the first black President of the United States, but I'm also proud to see America come together and celebrate. That's what the prayer service brought out," she said. "We had a nice turnout. It was people of different nationalities coming together. When you looked around - even if it wasn't necessarily their style of worship - you saw everybody participating."

Beyond praying for Obama, Harper and other local guest pastors led prayer for the Cabinet, law enforcement, the military and the nation's youth, he said.

"The time of prayer for the youth we felt was particularly important given the vital role that the young people played in the presidential election," Harper said. "Now that young people are enthused and engaged, we want to continue to make sure they're part of the process on all levels, especially the election because decisions are being made on their future."

Senior Pastor Les Robinson of The Burning Bush church in Valencia, said the event signified the progress of unified relationships between races.

"I think the way we perceive people who are different from us is being leveled and people are starting to look at each other with clear, level and open eyes," he said. "This theme of love and unity should continue and I was happy to be a part of that ... "

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