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SPOTLIGHT
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Planning the 21st annual Festival of Faith

Published on -10/12/2012, 10:04 AM

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For months, a 12-member planning committee met during the lunch hour, discussing and organizing the details for the 21st annual Festival of Faith.

As a representative of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce, which jointly sponsors this event with the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance, I'm proud to serve with this dedicated team of volunteers.

At our last meeting, I mentally compared this group with other planning committees on which I serve. When it comes to planning other events, the "devil is in the details," which is just the opposite for the festival, literally and figuratively.

The smallest of details is discussed thoroughly, from who will assist backstage to what type of flower best represents the occasion. Of course, few other groups begin a meeting with an opening prayer, which is a refreshing change of pace.

In today's environment where you might feel intimidated or afraid to announce your Christian beliefs, mentioning of Jesus and Bible verses are common place at these meetings.

Initiating deep discussion, committee member Verlin Pfannenstiel asked what the theme "Jesus Today" meant to each of us. One person shared "It means the acts of Jesus' presence in our life today," while another piped up "Being God's hands and feet today."

As only Jean Ross can eloquently summarize, she said "When someone asks you what the festival's theme means, you respond by asking them 'Well, what does it mean to you?' And whatever their response, you tell them, 'That's the answer!' "

As each of us pondered, reflected and shared our own interpretation, I noticed tears in several sets of eyes as the conversation had touched members deeply. Clearly moved, member Judy Bieker gave Jean a quick hug, exclaiming "That's why I love that question -- there is no wrong answer!"

The desire, heart and spirit of this planning committee are what truly make the Festival of Faith a remarkable experience for me, because I have plainly seen examples of "Jesus Today" within this very group of dedicated volunteers. The event itself will inspire many others, as well, whether through the motivational music, the Scripture or the presentation from the Bishop of the Diocese of Salina, the Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger.

To paraphrase Pastor Wes Oakley, the planning committee may spend hours organizing the event, but we do this so people of all denominations can come together for one hour and celebrate one common belief. On Sunday, the festival begins at 3 p.m. at the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at Fort Hays State University and is free to the public.

We hope you can join us for this important hour of ministry and celebration.

Tammy Wellbrock is executive director of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.

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