RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Sen. Tim Kaine returned to his longtime parish Sunday to re-energize his faith, sing solo with the gospel choir, and ask for prayers as he’s launched into the national spotlight as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Kaine_ a former choir member at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church _ sang a solo during Communion and his wife, Anne Holton, spoke briefly at the end of the service to tell parishioners how important they’ve been in their lives.
“You have helped shape us,” Holton said.
The Kaines visited their church a day after Kaine made his campaign debut with Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Kaine and his wife have been active members of the congregation for 32 years. Kaine used to sing regularly with the choir, has mentored the church’s youth, and was part of a church men’s club.
During his political career, Kaine has been open about his faith and its impact on his views on social justice. He spent a year in Honduras as a Catholic missionary before graduating from law school.
Friends said the church is a place of refuge for the Kaines, where they forget about politics for a bit.
Maeola Strother, a retired teacher who has known the Kaines since they joined the church, said the senator is “just Tim” when he’s at St. Elizabeth.
“He’s just one of the members,” she said. “When he comes here, he can be relaxed.”
The church, which has a large African-American membership, greeted the Kaines warmly with hugs and applause. Parishioners said they were grateful Kaine took time to come to church given his new role in the Clinton campaign.
But Kaine said he was energized by the service and reconnecting with old friends.
“We needed some prayers today,” Kaine told reporters after the service. “And we got some prayers and we got some support and it feels really good.”
Kaine’s solo with the choir came at the request of longtime family friend Amy Williford-Brew, who sent him a text last night asking him to sing. She said Kaine responded early Sunday morning accepting the invitation. Kaine sang the song, “Taste and See,” from memory.
In her remarks to the church, Holton asked for prayers to keep her family safe, including the couple’s eldest son Nat. He is a Marine who is going on deployment Monday.
And then, with the November election in mind, Holton said: “We will all have a big party at the other end, no matter what happens.”