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Edina pastor reflects during Pride Month: "God did not make a mistake, you are perfect"

Meet the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Denson-Byers
Meet the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Denson-Byers 02:41

EDINA, Minn. — Yolanda Denson-Byers is where she always knew she would be.  

"Yes, very clearly knew that I would be a pastor," she said. "I just felt a lot of joy when I thought about my faith life and what I was learning in church and about my faith life and I knew I wanted to do that as my vocation."

Her vocation now is head pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Edina. She says when she is out in public, people often have questions.

"You are female and you are Black and you are queer. You can almost not be more marginalized," Denson-Byers said.

But she cannot be stopped. She has a Master of Divinity from Harvard. She also has a wife and five children. 

"Even the church I grew up in as a child, I was told I couldn't be a pastor as a woman… and then you add that I am part of this beautiful rainbow tribe and it's so outside of the imagination because a lot of people understand Jesus and Christianity very narrowly and they don't understand the radical welcomeness to God to all people," Denson-Byers said. "They believe some are welcome but not all are welcome and I reject that."

She says she wants everyone to follow their convictions and find community.

"Find one that will love you and affirm and accept you and not only that — celebrate you," Denson-Byers said.

She says her prayer is that people can have faith and be themselves.

"I want people to recognize their inherent worth, whether it's their race or ethnicity, whether it's the sexual identity or gender expression, I want all people to recognize their inherent worth and that God did not make a mistake, you are perfect," Denson-Byers said.

In this month of celebration, Denson-Byers says she has faith that more people can be themselves.

"At the core of yourself, I feel you should never discredit who you know yourself to be," she said.

Denson-Byers holds service at Shepherd of the Hills in Edina every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. She says everyone is welcome to the table.

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