The Reverend Doctor Silvester Beaman will deliver the benediction at the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021, where Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States. Dr. Beaman is the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and a long-time friend of the Biden family. During the 2020 Presidential election campaign, a photo of President-elect Biden holding a community at Dr. Beaman’s church after the murder of George Floyd was placed in a Republican attack ad characterizing the attendees as “thugs”.
Dr. Beaman stated, “It is an extreme honor to have the President-elect ask me to do this. The benediction is a priestly function where the pastor stands as the voice of God to announce God’s grace. I will be standing in the place where the rioters stood; in front of a building built by slaves. I hope to speak a word of healing through this prayer. As an AME, I’m proud to represent in this way.”
AME clergy have participated in several high-profile public celebrations led by leaders over the last few years. At the 2008 election night celebration for President Barack Obama in Chicago, Bishop Phillip R. Cousin delivered the opening prayer. The invocation at the 2011 White House Easter Prayer Breakfast was delivered by Bishop Vashti McKenzie who also gave the benediction on one evening of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. BIshop Sam Green delivered a homily during the official worship service before the 2020 Democratic National Convention.