(CNN) — First Lady Jill Biden on Sunday afternoon made a trip to Columbia, South Carolina, which had not been announced publicly ahead of time, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Charles B. Jackson, the senior pastor of Brookland Baptist Church.
The attendance of the first lady was spurred by her relationship with Robin Jackson, the pastor’s wife, who in 2019 became Biden’s prayer partner. The two met when then-candidate Joe Biden and Jill Biden attended a service at Brookland during the presidential campaign. Robin Jackson and Jill Biden forged a remote prayer connection, which Biden has credited with restoring her faith after the death of her son, Beau Biden. Biden and Jackson remain “frequently in touch,” mostly “via text,” Biden’s press secretary Michael La Rosa tells CNN.
La Rosa added that Sunday’s visit by Biden was a surprise to both Jacksons. Biden was set to give remarks at a special service honoring the pastor.
CNN spotted the first lady departing her plane from Joint Base Andrews wearing a light blue skirt suit. Her personal aide was carrying a large bouquet of flowers as Biden entered the motorcade en route to Brookland.
Biden is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., after the service.