By GAYLE WEBER

gweber@dailynews.net

That one moment in time when Christians across Ellis County gather for an hour of praise and worship is expanding this year to include a few more moments in time.

The first event leading in to this fall's Festival of Faith will be at 7 p.m. April 29 at First United Methodist Church.

"The whole concept arose out of ECMA discussion on how we can build up the Christian community in Hays in preparation for Festival of Faith," said the Rev. Jerre Nolte of First United Methodist Church.

Ellis County Ministerial Alliance participating churches will host a series of Christians United events leading into the annual Festival of Faith on Oct. 14, which is sponsored by ECMA and the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the April 29 event, other gatherings are being planned in August and September.

The Festival of Faith celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. In 2000, similar ecumenical gatherings took place throughout the year leading up to the Festival of Faith.

"A lot of people have requested that again," said Pastor Steve Dinkel of Liberty Christian Fellowship.

This time around, First United Methodist Church, Liberty Christian Fellowship, Celebration Community Church and the Rev. Joel Maiorano, chaplain at Hays Medical Center, are working together to create the nondenominational service that will be open to all Christians.

"We're just getting everybody together to say we stand together," Dinkel said.

The upcoming service will focus on sharing traditions from various backgrounds through music and Scripture.

"We have quite a few songs of faith that we all either share or that we have individually coming from our own backgrounds," Nolte said.

Fellowship will follow the prayer service, Nolte said.