MANKATO — The First Congregational United Church of Christ was overflowing Wednesday as people from nine area churches, the Mankato Islamic Center and Native American community packed into the sanctuary for the first ever interfaith worship service.
They sang and played music from different traditions and gave prayers of thanks. Faith leaders read from the Bible as well as the Muslim holy text, the Quran.
Abdi Sabrie, a member of the Mankato Islamic Center Board of Directors, spoke of the diversity of people and life on earth.
"I'm very grateful we are together tonight," Sabrie said. "No matter what tradition we come from, that we are together, and I'm very thankful to be here talking about my faith tonight."
Gwen Westerman, a professor at Minnesota State University and director of the Native American Literature Symposium, spoke about her family and her own faith and the lesson her Dakota heritage taught her about giving thanks for life no matter the circumstance.
Chair of the Mahkato Wacipi Committee Dave Brave Heart played the flute and spoke of unity and putting aside differences for peaceful celebration.
Chairs had to be added as more people trickled in.
Rev. Michelle Hargrave from Centenary United Methodist Church told the group she hopes the event helps unite the Mankato community.
"I loved it. I loved the music and the thoughtfulness," said Eunice Simon, a member of Grace Lutheran Church. "All the different kinds of music, especially the flute."
Sabrie's daughter Wardah Sabrie, 21, said it was amazing and she hadn't been to a service like it before.
"I loved everything. It was cool to see everyone together talking about God and giving thanks," Sabrie said.
Church of Christ Rev. Dana Mann said hosting an interfaith gathering this year felt important. The church holds an ecumenical service every year. She said it was a way to celebrate diversity and affirm the community.