The third annual Interfaith Day at the state Capitol in Pierre is set for 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, in the Capitol Rotunda to help kick off the 95th annual session of the legislature.
Open to the public, the interfaith day is organized mainly by leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the second-largest denomination in the state with about 100,000 baptized members; by comparison, the Catholic Church’s two dioceses have about 160,000 baptized members.
But people from many other — some much smaller — religious denominations and groups will take part. They include Jewish, Muslim and Hindu groups, as well as Episcopal, Congregational and others, according to Sawyer Vanden Heuvel, communications director for the ELCA’s South Dakota Synod.
A year ago at the Interfaith Day, a photo taken on the marble steps in the Rotunda showed about 150 people, including lawmakers, religious leaders and ordinary members of congregations across the state.
The Interfaith Day actually will begin at 9 a.m., Thursday, with morning prayers across the street northwest of the Capitol in Lutheran Memorial Church and reconvene in the Rotunda.
Interfaith Day was started in 2018 for a religious reason, Vanden Heuvel said in a news release.
“While God calls for us to serve the neighbor, we believe that to serve the neighbor is to listen attentively and to care actively about the whole person as well as the quality of their life in the whole community. Interfaith Day is a day for all of us to honor our commitment to the free exercise of religious faith, guaranteed by the First Amendment, and to engage in conversations with neighbors of all faiths across the state of South Dakota.”
“According to Vanden Heuvel, those taking part will include: the Rev. Constanze Hagmaier, bishop of the ELCA’s South Dakota Synod: Ms. Betty Oldenkamp, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota and Ms. Tanzeeza Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace. Faith leaders and clergy from the Lakota community, the Episcopal Church; the ELCA; the United Church of Christ; the Catholic Presentation Sisters; the Jewish community; the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls; the Buddhist community, the Hindu Temple of the Siouxland, and many others.
Hosting the event are the ELCA synod, Lutheran Social Services, and South Dakota Voices for Peace.