Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun spent this past Sunday in familiar ter­ri­tory: speaking from the pulpit.

Aoun made the latest in a series of visits to area churches as part of an ongoing effort to con­nect with people in the neigh­bor­hoods sur­rounding North­eastern. This Sunday he attended the service—and spoke to the congregation—at the Charles Street AME Church in Rox­bury, where the fourth Sunday of each month is ded­i­cated to inspiring young people to better their lives.

The church’s long­time pastor, Rev. Gre­gory Groover, who chairs the Boston School Com­mittee, noted that “our church his­tor­i­cally has been an edu­ca­tion church.” On occa­sion guests join the con­gre­ga­tion to help with its youth-​​focused mission.

I men­tioned in my sermon that [Pres­i­dent Aoun’s] pres­ence at the church expressed a com­mit­ment not only to wor­ship with our youth, but to show in person his com­mit­ment to their edu­ca­tion,” said Groover, who added that Aoun’s appear­ance meant a great deal to the young people in attendance.

For them to see a col­lege pres­i­dent of a well-​​known, nation­ally famed insti­tu­tion, who works every day in their com­mu­nity, took on sig­nif­i­cant meaning,” said Groover. “He’s someone who chooses not to just go home at the end of the week, but to come and sit with them and wor­ship on a Sunday morning.”

The con­gre­ga­tion was swelled by the atten­dance of about 50 mem­bers of the church’s bas­ket­ball out­reach min­istry, Groover noted. Aoun promised them a chance to watch the Huskies play in Matthews Arena.

Groover said the pres­i­dent enhanced the church’s his­toric emphasis on edu­ca­tion. “In our con­gre­ga­tion we try to do any­thing and every­thing we can to encourage and moti­vate and deepen the interest of our youth to think: col­lege, col­lege, col­lege,” he said. “It’s our expec­ta­tion that we grad­uate them all and send them off to col­lege … and that each of them will strive to attain the ter­minal degree in their careers,” he said.

Aoun said he was inspired by the con­gre­ga­tion: “Vis­iting a church in our com­mu­nity with such a pas­sionate devo­tion to higher education—and with so many young people there—reinforced for me all of the rea­sons this is a vibrant neigh­bor­hood in a strong city,” said Aoun. “Rev. Groover is a gen­uine leader and his work on behalf of Boston’s young people is an inspi­ra­tion to all of us. I thank him for wel­coming me into his con­gre­ga­tion and for allowing me to con­tribute to his impor­tant work.”

Groover’s con­nec­tion to North­eastern goes beyond his role as local pastor. In November, he spoke to a Jewish studies class on the impor­tance of the Under­ground Rail­road, local pol­i­tics and issues of social jus­tice. He also joined Aoun, Boston school Super­in­ten­dent Carol Johnson and Mayor Thomas Menino at an event announcing Northeastern’s new Foun­da­tion Year pro­gram aimed at helping Boston public school stu­dents enter and com­plete college.