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Published March 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Spirits soar at Sunday service during flood crisis

Hopes were lifted Sunday morning, even if temporarily, after a bleak week of floodwaters dampened the community’s spirits.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

Hopes were lifted Sunday morning, even if temporarily, after a bleak week of floodwaters dampened the community’s spirits.

“This awful occurrence is causing people to come together,” the Rev. Vern Baardson said.

And come together they did. About 200 residents in all attended Triumph West’s community church service at the Ramada Plaza Suites and Conference Center in south Fargo.

They came together, representing congregations from all over the metro whose churches shut down or canceled services in light of flooded neighborhoods or closed roads.

They came together to sing and pray, and to share hugs and hope.

“It’s just a traumatic time,” said Fargo resident JoAnn Flanagan, who attended the service with her husband, Vern. “It just gives you a feeling of calm, peace.”

They didn’t know all the songs. And when they walked in, they didn’t even know the service’s denomination.

But they came when they heard it was open to the public and their church, St. John Lutheran near the river on Fifth Street, was canceled.

And while the service may not have answered the question Flanagan was most looking to have answered – “Is the city going to go?” – she did leave calmer.

“It’s a good reminder of what we need these days,” Baardson said as he began to strum his guitar to “Amazing Grace.”

He offered encouragement and hope to worshippers in a time when many like Flanagan are questioning the fate of the community.

“But yet the promise of God says he is here with us,” he said. “No matter what heaven and earth throw at us.”

About half of the people there Sunday weren’t regular attendees, said Audrey Brumfield, who welcomed everyone who entered the room with a “Good morning,” a hug and a smile.

“That’s what I do every Sunday,” the 69-year-old said.

Yet it was clear that the day was not like any other Sunday, as a half-dozen local and national media observed the service and Baardson spent most of his sermon alluding to floods – biblical or actual.

“How many of you have had a nine ibuprofen day?” he joked. “He knows what we’re going through, and he hears. If there’s ever a time God’s people need to be praying, this is the time.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515 or kmsmith@forumcomm.com

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