Morning Worship Service
On March 4, 1933, at 10:15 a.m., prior to his swearing-in ceremony, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor attended a church service at St. John's Episcopal Church, next to the White House. They did the same at Roosevelt's 1937 and 1941 Inaugurations, and arranged for a private service at the White House the morning of his fourth Inauguration on January 20, 1945. Roosevelt's Inauguration Day worship service set a precedent that has been followed by Presidents ever since.
Franklin Roosevelt was not the first President to attend church on Inauguration Day, however. In 1789, George Washington attended a service at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City immediately following his swearing-in ceremony. Although this feature of Washington's Inauguration did not set a precedent, religion still played a role in subsequent swearing-in ceremonies. Almost all Presidents since George Washington have placed their hand on a Bible when taking the oath of office. And all Presidents have included some reference to the Almighty in their Inaugural addresses (except George Washington's second address, which was only 135 words).
The following list provides information on Inauguration Day worship services attended by Presidents and Presidents-elect since 1933.
|President||Inaugural Event||Service Attended|
|George W. Bush||January 20, 2001||Attended private service at St. John's Episcopal Church;|
|William J. Clinton||January 20, 1997||Attended private prayer service at Metropolitan AME Church;|
|William J. Clinton||January 20, 1993||Attended private prayer service at Metropolitan AME Church;|
|George H.W. Bush||January 20, 1989||Attended private service at St. John's Episcopal Church;|
|Ronald W. Reagan||January 21, 1985||Attended private service at St. John's Episcopal Church; On Monday, January 21, attended service at National Cathedral|
|Ronald W. Reagan||January 20, 1981||Attended private service at St. John's Episcopal Church;|
|James E. Carter||January 20, 1977||Interfaith prayer service at the Lincoln Memorial;|
|Richard M. Nixon||January 20, 1973||No apparent church service Inauguration Day morning; attended church the next day|
|Richard M. Nixon||January 20, 1969||Attended official prayer breakfast in West Auditorium of the State Department;|
|Lyndon Baines Johnson||January 20, 1965||Attended private service at National City Christian Church;|
|John F. Kennedy||January 20, 1961||Attended Mass at Holy Trinity Church;|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower||January 20, 1957||Attended services at National Presbyterian Church ; Took private oath of office that day; public ceremony the next day.|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower||January 20, 1953||Attended service at National Presbyterian Church ;|
|Harry S. Truman||January 20, 1949||Attended service at St. John's Episcopal Church ;|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||January 20, 1945||Private service held in the East Room of the White House;|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||January 20, 1941||Attended service at St. John's Episcopal Church;|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||January 20, 1937||Attended service at St. John's Episcopal Church ;|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||March 4, 1933||Attended service at St. John's Episcopal Church ;|