WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama said Friday the biblical command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” is as pertinent now as ever.

An entire community suffers when some members cannot pay their mortgages or find jobs, Obama said at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference. He called on Americans to work together and care for one another.

“Together, we must build a future where the promise of America is kept for a new generation,” he said.

His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said the Obama family still is searching for a new permanent congregation to join in Washington.

Obama left his longtime church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, last May during his presidential campaign, after videos surfaced of bombastic sermons by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In some sermons, Wright condemned the United States and suggested the government was to blame for the HIV/AIDS scourge on black communities.

Gibbs said one difficult factor in choosing a new church is the large footprint any president makes when he goes somewhere – “what it does when a president decides to walk out of this building and walk into a different building and disrupt worshippers that are attending for their own personal reasons.”

Obama likes to attend chapel when spending time at the Maryland presidential retreat at Camp David, Gibbs said. But he has not brought in ministers to perform services for the family at the White House.

AP-ES-06-19-09 1630EDT


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