God’s 220 Acres

When South Dakota farmer Dwayne Pederson died last year, his widow and daughter prayed about what to do with the farm. And they believe God’s answer was to make it the home of LifeLight, one of the country’s largest Christian music festivals.

LifeLight plans to relocate to the 220-acre family farm near Worthing some 20 miles south of Sioux Falls for its annual Labor Day festival starting in 2010.

When they heard that LifeLight was in need of a new home after a run at a water park in Sioux Falls, Evelyn Pederson and daughter Karla Lems contacted the organization about using their farm. “It was a God thing,” Lems said.

For city leaders in Sioux Falls, it was also a money thing: the festival had outgrown its old digs and the city faced the loss of the estimated $12 million LifeLight generates had it been forced to shutter, according to the Argus Leader.

Even if it relocates to Worthing, festival director Julie Klinger told the paper, “For all the people coming in from all over the country, the lodging is in Sioux Falls, and the flights.”

At the most recent LifeLight fest, an estimated 130,000 people showed up on the final day of the festival, spilling over a hill out of view of the stage, prompting the search for a new venue, according to the Leader.

The Lincoln County Planning and Zoning Commission has granted the LifeLight Christian music festival a permit. The LifeLight organization was nearing a vote on the move at press time, but approval seems a foregone conclusion.

Alan Greene, CEO and co-founder of LifeLight, says his group feels like the Worthing land is its permanent new home, though his definition of “permanent” is nuanced.

“Evelyn Pederson said we can use the land until Jesus comes back, so we feel good about that timeline,” he told the paper.