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President and family attend church services at Marine base

By Staff and the Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:02 p.m. HST, Dec 26, 2010

President Barack Obama, his family and friends went to church at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the Sunday after Christmas.

The first family arrived at a chapel at Marine Corps Base Hawaii mid-morning for a multi-denominational service. The Obamas were greeted by clapping parishioners and a band playing "Joy to the World" as they were led to their seats in the front row.

In his sermon, chaplain Steve Moses asked worshippers to recommit to God in the new year. He also joked that the reason God put him through a recent heart surgery was so he wouldn't suffer a heart attack while preaching before the president.

Obama was the first worshipper to take communion, dipping the wafer in wine before placing it in his mouth.

During the hourlong service, Obama and the other churchgoers sang along to a youth band playing Christmas carols such as "Silent Night" and "Oh Holy Night."

Though Obama speaks frequently about his Christian faith, his family rarely attends church services in Washington. The White House says the president hasn't joined a parish because his appearances would be disruptive to the rest of the congregation, though he does attend private services when he spends weekends at Camp David, the presidential retreat.

Obama last attended church in September, shortly after a poll was released indicating that a majority of Americans had doubts about the president's religious beliefs.

The president and Mrs. Obama also extended wishes to people celebrating Kwanzaa. "The seven principles of Kwanzaa — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith — are some of the very values that make us Americans," the Obamas said in a statement issued by the White House.

Earlier in the morning, the president received a briefing on terrorism threats and counter-terrorism efforts, according to the White House Press Office.

Obama also called Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Sunday to wish him well as he recovers from two recent back surgeries.

The 86-year-old king was released from New York's Presbyterian Hospital last week after operations for a slipped disk and a blood clot. Saudi Arabia's royal palace says Abdullah is in good health and expected to remain in the U.S. for recuperation.

The White House says the king congratulated Obama on the Senate's recent ratification of the New START treaty with Russia.

The president's afternoon was spent golfing at the Kaneohe Klipper course on base with friends Dr. Eric Whitaker, Bobby Titcomb and Mike Ramos. It's the same golf course the president played on Thursday.

The president also resumed his morning workouts after taking a day off on Christmas.Obama left the Kailua vacation rental at just before 8 this morning for to workout at the gym at the base, returning after about a hour.


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