VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — In the shade of the trees at Prentis Park in Vermillion, people gathered with their lawn chairs to worship.
“My church and a couple of the other churches in town just decided that we really wanted to express acceptance and inclusion, and kind of a repentance for past harms done,” Vermillion Pride co-executive member Chris Larson said.
Vermillion Pride concluded their weekend celebration in prayer. Pastors from three different churches came together to preach a common theme: diversity and acceptance.
“Being a part of a wider community that gets to celebrate that diversity and to support our brothers and sisters who struggle with all kinds of issues of non-inclusion, so our church wanted to support that,” Steve Miller, pastor for Vermillion United Church of Christ said.
Tears fell and people shared hugs, too.
“I thought it was wonderful, I thought it was great,” Johnson said. “Me too, I thought it was awesome,” Miller said. “It was inspiring, the wind was blowing, there was a lot of people. Very moving. I was moved,” Teri Johnson, pastor for First United Methodist Church said.
Not only is this a chance to worship, but also to connect people.
“So what churches do is they offer us this really strong sense of community and support and belonging,” attendee Kat Anderberg said. “And especially given that historically, LGBTQ and two-spirit peoples might have strained family connections, it’s really important for us to build up families through these religious communities that we have.”