WASHINGTON -- With less than six months left before Election Day, some people are looking to the past, honoring the faith and leadership of one of America's founding fathers.
Against the grand colonnade and statues in the Old House Chamber, prayers and songs echoed Tuesday in the heart of the U.S. Capitol in a service commemorating the 223rd anniversary of George Washington's first inauguration as the president of a new nation.
"He was exceptional," Dan Cummins said. "He was an American; he was a man of prayer."
Tuesday's ceremony focused on America's religious heritage as a cornerstone of government.
"Of the 192 nations of the world, only one of them has in its sacred documents, specifically its birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, a statement that clearly states all of our rights come from God," Jim Garlow, chairman of Renewing American Leadership, said.
House Speaker John Boehner approved the use of Statuary Hall for the ceremony. It holds historical significance for these types of events. Organizers say at one time it hosted Washington's largest church.
"Preachers of every Christian denomination preached Christian doctrine in this chamber - right here where we sit," Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told CBN News.
Many of the event's speakers lamented the nation's ailing economy, morality, and broken political system, saying the country has gone astray.
But Harry Jackson, with the High Impact Leadership, said he clings to the hope that there are brighter days ahead.
"Many of us believe that America is at its darkest moment," Jackson said. "But I want to be the contrarian here: God ain't through with America yet."
People from across the country attended and said they were inspired by the gathering.
"This event proves that we still at the core, no matter who says otherwise, are a nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all," Sulena Breland said.
"My husband and I both have so wanted to do something for our country, and we didn't know what. How does one person do anything? They pray," Mary Irwin of Tyler, Texas, said.
Not everyone, however, was thrilled about the event, citing concerns about the separation of church and state.
"Americans have the right to, of course, pray for the government, for political leaders anytime they like," Rob Boston of Americans United said.
"But I don't think that government really ought to be sponsoring or hosting any types of religious services, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or even atheist events," he added. "That's just not the government's job to do."
But for the attendees, the ceremony was about prayer for recovery and renewal.
"There is no problem that this nation faces, that cannot be solved by prayer," U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black said.