WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 9, 2012) – North Park University Professor Scot McKnight and Quest Church Pastor Eugene Cho were two of the invited guests attending President Barack Obama’s third annual Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House on April 4.
“That President Obama is willing to host an Easter breakfast, invite only Christian leaders, and include a personal address . . . and involve singers like Sarah Groves and a sermon by Joel Hunter is a symbolic way for President Obama to express his faith,” McKnight said afterward. “Events like this do not impose faith on Americans, or even privilege the Christian faith, but they do give the President an opportunity to express his faith and support the Christian message of the death and resurrection of Christ.”
It was clear that Obama did not invite only “progressive Christians” to the breakfast, said McKnight, who is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies. “I was impressed by the spectrum.”
Reflecting on the “wonder of Easter morning,” the President said, “It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the triumph of the resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of grace. And for me, and I’m sure for some of you, it’s also a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured – not just as a Son of God, but as a human being.”
McKnight attended the breakfast with his wife, Kristen. “It was an honor to be invited, and we will treasure this the rest of our lives,” he said.
About 150 people from across the United States were invited.
Cho, who pastors Quest, an Evangelical Covenant Church in Seattle, tweeted, “There’s something really moving about people – whoever & wherever – when we pray & confess our belief & need in the Resurrection of Christ.”
Cho has been featured in multiple national publications, including the New York Times, for his advocacy work on behalf of the poor and launching One Day’s Wages. The initiative encourages people to give financial contributions equal to one’s day’s wages to benefit impoverished people around the world.
The prayer breakfast was the second presidential event Cho has attended this year. In February, Obama was at a gathering that celebrated the Dreamliner 787, an ultra-high tech airplane constructed by Boeing Company in Seattle. Cho was part of a small group that was introduced to the President.
In a blog post, Cho wrote afterwards why he attends such events and stressed the importance of praying for all of our leaders.
In a reflection he posted to his blog following the brief discussion, Cho wrote, “When folks were introduced at this smaller gathering, they all had ‘important’ titles. I was simply introduced by ‘Eugene Cho’ and I’m certain many were asking, ‘Who is this and why is he here?’ In fact, President Obama himself had a puzzled look as he said, ‘Hello Eugene.’ So, I had to introduce myself to him and explained to him that I was a pastor here in Seattle and involved with some other work. We chit-chatted briefly about stuff, but there is something I very specifically remember – and I don’t know if I’ll ever forget this portion of our conversation.
“I shared with President Obama that I occasionally, but regularly prayed for him and this is how he responded: ‘Thank you, Eugene. I really appreciate that. Can you also please pray for my wife and children? Pray for their protection.’ ”
Click here to read the rest of Cho’s reflection.
Editor’s note: Photo courtesy of Kristen M. McKnight. McKnight comments courtesy of North Park University website.