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On Sunday, Beach/Schmidt will be filled with 'Faith'





For something to last 21 years, Pastor Wes Oakley of Westview Church believes there must be something to it.

Individuals from throughout the faith community of Ellis County will gather for the 21st year Sunday to celebrate the Festival of Faith, a nondenominational gathering of prayer and worship.

"The main thing behind this ... is the spirit of God's grace is in it," said Oakley, president of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance and Festival of Faith committee chairman.

The Festival of Faith will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the Fort Hays State University campus. It is sponsored by ECMA and Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and is intended to bring Protestants and Catholics from throughout Ellis County together one Sunday afternoon each year.

"It's bringing, allowing Christians of all different faith orientations to express that God is a part of their lives ... and that we can come together," said Sister Janet LeDuc of St. Joseph Parish. She's also a member of the Festival of Faith committee.

Each year, the committee invites a wide range of individuals -- both clergy and lay people -- to speak, sing and pray. This year, the featured speaker will be the Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger, bishop of the Diocese of Salina.

Weisenburger, who spent a few years in Hays as a child, was installed as the 11th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salina in May.

"It's an opportunity to have him come since he is new in the area," LeDuc said. "Since his history began here, it seemingly was really fitting."

Weisenburger is expected to speak about this year's theme -- Jesus, Today.

Music also is a significant part of the festival each year. This year, Oakley said a community choir directed by Johnny Matlock is expected to perform, as are special musical acts and a barbershop group.