“And the final word is you’ve come to worship. Now leave to serve.”
This is how Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, the pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, blesses his congregation at the end of every Sunday service. On Wednesday, January 20, he will do the same for his country to mark the end of the inaugural ceremony of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.
Beaman has been a friend to Biden for almost 30 years now, providing the former vice president and his family spiritual counseling. This month, Biden asked his long-time friend to provide the country with the benediction to wrap up his inauguration on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“I began to feel the significance of standing in that very same spot, a building erected by slaves, desecrated by this mob. And yet here we are. Our legacy as a nation when it comes to the peaceful transfer of power is still intact. And so I feel like I’m representing a whole lot,” Beaman told Action News.
Beaman, who said he is honored to be chosen to bless the end of the inaugural ceremony, met Biden in 1993 at the time he [Beaman] had become head of Bethel AME. The two met during an event Beaman held in the community and soon became good friends. Beaman would along the way travel with Biden during most of his past campaigns for president.
His relationship with Biden also extended to his late son, Beau Biden. “Beau and I became kindred spirits,” Beaman told NBC News. “We became good friends in the trenches dealing with social issues in Wilmington and the state.” Beau died of cancer in 2005. Biden had before this lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident. He also suffered some increased health risks that come with age. But these trials make him the “ideal” person to lead the country amid all the challenges, Beaman said.
“He’s had some dark times in his life. And he’s someone who is naturally a person of faith. He prays and listens to God.”
“We need a president who is after the heart of God.
“In these terrible times, if anybody can bring healing and reconciliation to a divided country, if we give him room to work, Joe Biden can be that person.”
At the time of putting together this report, Beaman said he was preparing to do a prayer that will be “timely, not lengthy,” but will also “embrace the spirit of this moment.”
Many Wilmington natives have told NBC News it’s not surprising that Beaman was picked to do the benediction. “He has always been a pivotal part of the community and so has Joe Biden. The pastor’s Power Hour, where people would come to church during their lunch hour to pray every day, is one example of how he connects with the people,” resident David Coker said.
Biden, in his victory speech in November, showed gratitude to Black people, including those in Delaware for their support, especially during the campaign. He promised them that as president, he will do the same. And Beaman strongly believes that Biden will not go back on his words.