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Prayers Cause Concern At SD Council Meeting

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An opening prayer leads many government meetings across the country, including in South Dakota.

The Sioux Falls City Council and the Rapid City City Council are two communities who have used invocation for years.

However, Rapid is now faced with some heat from a national organization asking the council to stop the practice.

During the day, the Sioux Falls City Council Chambers are empty, but once the meetings begin, people start to file in.

There's a system in place the city council follows once in session, a system City Councilman Greg Jamison, said he agrees with.

"Start with an invocation, and then the pledge of allegiance and then the city's business," said Jamison.

For decades under a Sioux Falls city ordinance, invocation is listed under order of business.

"I think we're doing it the right way," said Jamison.

Jamison, one of nine siblings, grew up in Sioux Falls and has served in the City Council for nearly six years.

From a citizen in the audience to a councilor on the podium, opening prayers have always been around.

"It's a moving experience because you're looking for all the guidance and all the help you can get to make those wise decisions to think past needs and wants and think of the general public," said Jamison.

The Rapid City City Council follows the same practice as Sioux Falls, however Rapid doesn't have the invocation listed as a city ordinance.

Recently a National Organization called, Freedom From Religion Foundation, informed the Rapid's City Council "Prayer at government meetings is unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive."

Claims, Jamison doesn't feel a warranted attack and is thankful for the tradition Sioux Falls has been able to hold onto.

"It's very interesting to see the different pastors come and their different perspectives, different dialects, but it all comes back to the same think and that's a higher calling," said Jamison.

KDLT News talked to the Mayor of Rapid City, Sam Kooiker who said, "The national organization is picking on the wrong Mayor, the wrong council and the wrong town,” said Kooiker.

Rapid City, city leaders are now looking at ways to keep prayer during meetings, a tradition that dates back to the 1950's.
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