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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — President Barack Obama and his family attended Easter service at the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, whose history dates back almost 200 years to when Thomas Jefferson was in the White House.

Obama along with wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia were welcomed to the historic church by the pastor, Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley.

"How fitting that on the day we celebrate the rising of our Lord and savior, we also welcome our sitting president," Wesley said, as the congregation rose to their feet in applause.

"This is not selfie time," Wesley said jokingly. "Let the brother worship in the house of God."

Churchgoers traditionally walk around to shake hands and give hugs during the greetings and announcements portion of service, but the pastor encouraged the crowd to stay in their seats and greet only their closest neighbors, as the sanctuary was tightly secured with Secret Service agents.

The choir— including women in purple dresses and men sporting purple ties— sang a stirring rendition of the hymn "He Lives," prompting most of the church, filled to capacity, to clap, sing and sway to the thumping organ keys while ushers collected the offering.

The lively pastor based his sermon around a scripture from 1 Corinthians 15 on the life and resurrection of Christ.

Obama wished those who celebrate Easter a good holiday in a statement on Friday. “Michelle and I join our fellow Christians around the world in observing Good Friday and celebrating Easter this weekend. With humility and awe, we give thanks for the extraordinary sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation,” he said. On Tuesday the president will host an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House.



— The Associated Press