Trump and family begin inauguration day activities with church service

US President-elect Donald Trump departs Blair House to attend a church service at St John's Episcopal Church on Jan 20, 2017, hours before his inauguration. PHOTO: EPA
Donald Trump and his family atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at a welcome concert on the eve of inauguration. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday (Jan 20) attended the first event of his jam-packed inauguration day - a prayer service just hours before he takes the oath of office.

Mr Trump, his wife Melania and his adult children arrived at St. John's Church near the White House for what was expected to be an hour-long service before he heads for morning tea with outgoing President Barack Obama.

The sermon will be given by Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who has drawn sharp criticism for his inflammatory remarks about Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and gays.

Pastor Jeffress, who leads the First Baptist Church in Dallas, once accused outgoing President Barack Obama of "paving the way" for the Antichrist, and has called Islam an "evil religion."

Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his family were also to attend the service.

Pastor Jeffress tweeted a picture of himself in front of St. John's with the message: "Delivering sermon for Trump/Pence private family service at 8:30am CT. Topic: 'When God Chooses a Leader' from Nehemiah."

The Obamas and the Trumps will then travel the 4-km down Pennsylvania Avenue to the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.