By GAYLE WEBER
For Verlin Pfannenstiel, the yearlong celebration that was the 2000 Festival of Faith remains the most memorable to him.
For Linda Mosier, it's the simple fact Christians can gather once a year to celebrate their common faith.
Though neither Pfannenstiel nor Mosier like to take credit for the successes of the last 19 Festivals of Faith, nearly everyone else involved will point to their leadership as the reason the festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary next month. The Festival of Faith will be at 3 p.m. Oct. 2 in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the Fort Hays State University campus.
Pfannenstiel was one in a group of three lay people who approached the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance in 1992 about starting a yearly prayer gathering. Since then, he's been helping to steer the festival in the right direction. Mosier and Pfannenstiel are the two remaining members of the original Festival of Faith committee.
"It's just amazing to see everybody gathered together," Pfannenstiel said.
This year, the festival will focus on a theme of "Jesus, Our Legacy." The message will focus on topics from previous years, and video highlights from the last 20 years will be shown during the event including a tribute to the Rev. Bill Miller, who was an integral part of Festival of Faith until his death in January.
Judy Bieker, who serves on the prayer committee for the festival, said she hopes Pfannenstiel and Mosier can be honored for their work during this year's event.
"I don't know how to put that into words, so I'm hoping this is that moment of that crescendo of the music where they feel like they are rewarded for their service -- and all the other people that have been faithfully involved. I hope it's a crescendo of faithfulness," Bieker said.
Banners from two dozen churches have been collected and will be marched into Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at the beginning of the event. People representing all generations, different nations and churches across the county will carry the banners.
And that ecumenical sense developed during each year's festival is what it is all about for Mosier.
"The thing that impacts me (the most is) just the fact that for one hour, Christians get together with the chamber and celebrate what we have in common," Mosier said. "I just think that's an amazing thing. We're not aware of anyone else in the country who comes together for one hour of worship with that sponsorship."
The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce has been a sponsor of the Festival of Faith in conjunction with ECMA since the first event in 1992. That sponsorship continues today.
"A lot of who we are ... it's certainly been part of our culture, a community based in their faith," said Tammy Wellbrock, the chamber's executive director. "That non-denominational view -- it is one community in faith."
In preparation for the 20th anniversary of Festival of Faith, committee members have outlined 20 days of prayer leading up to the celebration.
For a complete list of the prayers that also look back on each of the last 19 years of Festival of Faith, visit www.hdnews.net.