Trinity Church Reacts to Obama's Departure

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Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ conducted its first Sunday services in 20 years without Barack Obama as a member.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner quit the South Side church on Friday.

Sen. Obama has faced months of criticism for his association with Trinity's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

More recently, a visiting speaker to the church openly mocked Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Speaking to reporters Saturday in Aberdeen, S.D., Obama said his church experience had become a "political circus."

His decision left some in the Trinity congregation surprised and disappointed. But their anger doesn't seem to be directed at Obama.

At Sunday's 7 a.m. service, Obama's name was not spoken from the altar.

But there were several indirect references to the controversy that's rocked the church in recent months.

Speaking from the pulpit, an assistant pastor urged the crowd of about 2,500 parishioners to "Forget the news media."

But while at least one parishioner flatly blamed the media for making the senator feel so uncomfortable with the church he had to quit, others didn't see it that way.

"He's a strong man," said Fred Pope. "No one can force you."

But Pope added: "... If he stops serving God, then that would be a problem for me. He can go (to church) wherever he chooses to go."

You can't blame some in the congregation for feeling besieged by the media.

Their church's name has become a political lightning rod, and this morning four camera crews and a half-dozen reporters gathered outside.

But there's a sense that normalcy might soon return to Trinity.

On his way to the 11 a.m. service, one man asked for his thoughts on Obama's resignation as a church member replied: "I'm thinking about meeting God."

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