The pastor of a Northern Virginia church where President Donald Trump stopped over the weekend has apologized to his congregation after praying for the president during the unscheduled visit.
“Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming, and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God,” Pastor David Platt of McLean Bible Church said Sunday evening in a statement to church members titled “Prayer for the President.” “Today, I found myself in one of those situations.”
Story Continued Below
Hours earlier, Trump’s motorcade made an unannounced detour to the church while returning to the White House from Trump National Golf Club in nearby Sterling, Va.
“President Donald J. Trump is visiting McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA, to visit with the Pastor and pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach,” Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said in a statement on Sunday, referring to the mass shooting at a municipal complex that left 13 people dead, including the gunman.
Platt explained in the statement to his congregation that he had been caught off guard.
“At the end of my sermon at the 1:00 worship gathering, I stepped to the side for what I thought would be a couple of moments in quiet reflection as we prepared to take the Lord’s Supper,” he said. “But I was immediately called backstage and told that the President of the United States was on his way to the church, would be there in a matter of minutes, and would like for us to pray for him.”
Platt, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, also explained that he prayed for the president because 1 Timothy 2:1-6 urges, in part, that Christians pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Trump, wearing a blazer over his golf clothes, stood on a stage while Platt prayed.
Afterward, “the president walked off stage without comment, and we closed our gathering by celebrating heroes among us, a couple who has spent the last 48 years spreading the gospel in remote places where it had never gone before they came,” Platt said in his statement. “We then recited the Great Commission as we always do, sending one another out into the city for the glory of our King.”
Platt went on to explain that he had no intention of endorsing the president, his policies or the Republican Party, and said he was sharing details “because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision.”
“This weighs heavy on my heart,” he continued. “I love every member of this church, and I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God.”
A day earlier, the president thanked the evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham for his announcement of a “Special Day of Prayer for the President,” scheduled for Sunday.
“We will all stick together and WIN! Thank you Franklin,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.