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Red River Valley members participate in Festival of Faiths

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FARGO, N.D. — In conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Fargo (N.D.)-Moorhead (Minn.) community, members of the Fargo 1st and 2nd wards joined with other groups — Jewish, Islam, Baha'i, Quakers, Hindu, Moslem, Protestant and Roman Catholic — in a Festival of Faiths July 2.

"When we heard about it, we invited ourselves," said Barry C. Woodruff, counselor in the Fargo North Dakota Stake presidency. He served on the organizing committee, which also included Bradley K. Leeser, his fellow counselor in the stake presidency, and Bishop Alan Miller of the Fargo 2nd Ward.

At an appointed time when faith groups walked on stage and placed symbols of their religion on an assigned pedestal, Presidents Woodruff and Leeser and ward public affairs director Janna Haynie carried and placed the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and a small sculpture of "The Christus," along with a sculpture representing the family, on their pedestal. Later in the program, the procession that carried the symbols to the stage moved them to display tables in the foyer of the building where the festival was held. President Leeser stood by the LDS collection ready to give explanation.

In a theater packed with hundreds of Red River Valley residents, a program of song, dance, readings and prayers was presented. During the LDS portion, President Woodruff read "The Living Christ, the Testimony of the Apostles," and Fargo 2nd Ward Relief Society President Martha Olsen sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints" with John Hall, a young single adult, accompanying.

In other LDS participation, 25 full-time and stake missionaries served as ushers, and five Primary children danced in the children's interpretive performance.

Days prior to the event, Bishop Miller, a local television station anchor, arranged for President Woodruff and one of the Protestant ministers to be interviewed as part of advance publicity for the event.

The activity was held during the final clean up of a devastating flash flood in this Red River Valley community, which caused millions of dollars in damage to homes. Several inches of rain fell in a matter of minutes a few weeks earlier, causing basements to flood. A power outage, causing sump pumps to fail, and residents vacationing from home complicated the problem.