LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's faith in God was shaped by her grandmother's hymns and the bedtime prayers from her gruff Navy father, the former secretary of state told thousands of Methodist women Saturday.

Clinton said she struggled as a young woman between her father's insistence on self-reliance and her mother's concern for compassion. She reconciled those in the biblical story of Jesus instructing his disciples to feed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish.

"The disciples come to Jesus and suggest they send away the people to find food to fend for themselves. But Jesus said, 'No. You feed them,'" Clinton said. "He was teaching a lesson about the responsibility we all share."

It was a personal speech from a woman considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. And while the speech mostly steered clear of politics, she made the case on moral grounds for increasing the minimum wage and equalizing pay for men and women -- two issues that have polarized Congress in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections.

Clinton's remarks came at the quadrennial United Methodist Women's Assembly, where 7,000 women gathered for three days of teaching, singing and service. Clinton told the crowd her faith was rooted in her family. She talked about how her father -- a self-made, independent man -- would "humble himself before God" by her bedside every night. And her grandmother would sing hymns as she braided young Clinton's hair.


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As she considers a run for president, Clinton has been brandishing her foreign policy experience lately with a recent speech at the University of Connecticut and by promoting the upcoming release of her new book, "Hard Choices."

But Saturday gave Clinton a chance to tell thousands of women from across the country about her own faith and the church she attended growing up in Illinois.

"I love that church. I love how it made me feel about myself," Clinton said. "I love the doors that it opened in my understanding of the world, I loved the way it helped to deepen my faith and ground it."