As President Obama gears up his re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee has tapped a well-connected Washington pastor to lead the party’s religious outreach.

The Rev. Derrick Harkins is senior pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, one of Washington’s oldest historically black churches, where Obama and his family worshipped right before his inauguration.

Harkins is also a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, a nationwide umbrella group, and Faith in Public Life, a liberal strategy center. Earlier this month, Obama hosted NAE leaders at the White House.

“I have every expectation that people of faith will be a key part of a successful election for Democrats in 2012,” Harkins said in a statement on Thursday. The pastor added that he will attempt to engage religious Americans on immigration reform, Obama’s new health care law and the role of religion in public life.

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