Recap: Following Biden’s visit to Ebenezer

President Joe Biden speaks with U.S. Sen Jon Ossoff and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens as he arrives at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Int. Airport; he is scheduled to deliver remarks at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday, January 15, 2023. (Photo: Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

President Joe Biden speaks with U.S. Sen Jon Ossoff and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens as he arrives at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Int. Airport; he is scheduled to deliver remarks at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday, January 15, 2023. (Photo: Miguel Martinez /

12:24 p.m. ‘That, my friends, is God’s work’

As the service wrapped up, Warnock called on Biden to stand next to him. The senator then ticked off a list of his legislative accomplishments, including an infrastructure act and bill to lower prescription drug prices.

“That, my friends, is God’s work,” he said.

Warnock also urged congregants to pray for Biden, who stood with his head bowed.

“This is not an easy job,” Warnock said.

The service concluded with a rousing rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”

Biden joined in, holding hands with Warnock and former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

-Shannon McCaffrey

12:20 p.m. After Biden’s speech, ‘church’ resumed

The choir sang, “I Don’t Believe He Brought Me This Far,” while Warnock invited those in the congregation who were not members of Ebenezer to come to the front to join the church — something that happens every Sunday at nearly every church in the country.

“If you believe in the freedom church, this is your church,” Warnock said. “This is the House of God. If you join the church on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the day that the president of the United States came to preach, you will never forget it.”

Biden stood in the receiving line as people filed up.

-Ernie Suggs

12:10 p.m. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

Closing out his relatively short speech, Biden talked about the Oval Office and how he decorated it.

“As I sit at my desk and look at the fireplace, just to the left is the bust of Dr. King,” Biden said. “It is in that spot on purpose because he was my inspiration as a kid. He does know where we should go.”

To the right of the King bust, Biden said, is one of civil rights trailblazer Rosa Parks.

“I ran for president to do three things,” Biden said. “To restore the soul of America, rebuild this country from the bottom up and I wanted to reunite it.”

“My message to the nation is we go forward, we go together. This is the United States of America. There is nothing beyond our capacity if we set our mind to it. We are a land of dreamers and a land of doers.”

-Ernie Suggs

12:03 p.m. ‘Redeem the soul of America’

President Joe Biden said the nation is at “inflection point.”

“I stand here at a critical juncture for the United States and the world,” Biden said.

Biden issued a call to “redeem the soul of America,” warning of efforts to transform democracy into autocracy.

“What is the soul of America? The soul is the breath, the life, the essence of who we are,” he said.

-Shannon McCaffrey

11:52: ‘Morehouse Man’

Having fun with Warnock’s many titles, Biden reminded the congregation that he was a reverend, a senator and a graduate of Morehouse College, adding the tired by classic line: “You can always tell a Morehouse Man, but you can’t tell him much.”

-Ernie Suggs

11:49 a.m. ‘This is intimidating’

President Joe Biden begins his address at Ebenezer Baptist Church with a note of humility.

“I’ve spoken before Parliaments, kings, queens, leaders for a long time. But this is intimidating,” Biden said.

Among those sitting in storied the church: former Ambassador Andrew Young and Christine King Farris, the sister of the church’s famed pastor Martin Luther King Jr.

“I stand here humbled as the first sitting president of the United States to address Ebenezer’s Sunday service,” he said.

-Shannon McCaffrey

11:40 a.m.: My living will not be in vain

In introducing President Biden, Warnock evoked both King and poet Langston Hughes, offering that “we are inspired by his life of service and how he has transformed his pain into power.”

“Joe Biden is no stranger to suffering and grief, but his faith has sustained him,” Warnock said, adding that while presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama have spoken at Ebenezer, Biden is “the first sitting president to deliver the sermon on a Sunday morning.”

Telling the congregation that Biden’s voice would be the next one they hear, the choir sang a song culled from King’s own words from his own eulogy: “Then my living will not be in vain.

-Ernie Suggs

11:25 a.m.

Too many to name

Joking that there were too many elected officials to name, Warnock said only the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. could have gotten them together.

He then when on to shout out Mayor Andre Dickens — asking him to hook him up with his tailor. He also recognized former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Ambassador Andrew Young, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and U.S Sen. Jon Ossoff.

Congresswoman Lucy McBath and Congressman Hank Johnson were also seen at the program.

“This is a house of prayer,” Warnock said. “For all people.”

Warnock also relayed the grim news that University of Georgia football player Devin Willock and football staff member Chandler LeCroy died in a car accident on Sunday.

“It is prayer time in the life of the people of God,” Warnock said.

- Ernie Suggs

11:15 a.m.:

After a campaign spent avoiding Biden, Warnock welcomes him to Atlanta

During his recent campaign, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock kept Joe Biden at arm’s length, worried the president’s low approval ratings in Georgia might rub off on his re-election bid.

But on Sunday, the two men embraced as Warnock welcomed Biden to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on the birthday of its former pastor, slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Warnock is now senior pastor at Ebenezer.

“Who other than Martin Luther King Jr. can get the president and everyone else all in one place?” Warnock asked as he introduced Biden.

- Shannon McCaffrey

11 a.m.

Biden arrives at Ebenezer Baptist Church for King sermon

At exactly 11 a.m., President Biden, along with Sen. Raphael Warnock walked unto the pulpit amid thundering drums for the morning’s opening processional. The choir, dressed in black and gold and singing, “The Spirit of the Lord is Here,” were joined by a team of four young dancers.

- Ernie Suggs

10:45 a.m.

Biden touches down in Atlanta

President Joe Biden touched down in Atlanta Sunday morning to deliver an address at Ebenezer Baptist Church on the birthday of its former leader, slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Biden was greeted on the tarmac by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, both Democrats, before traveling by motorcade into Atlanta.

Biden is set to become the first president to deliver a speech from the pulpit of Ebenzer during a regular morning service

- Shannon McCaffrey