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Published December 21, 2011, 10:20 PM

Locked-Out Workers, ACS Executives Attend GF Prayer Service

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - American Crystal executives, board members, growers, union leaders and locked-out workers came together in the same room Wednesday night. But they weren't there to negotiate.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - American Crystal executives, board members, growers, union leaders and locked-out workers came together in the same room Wednesday night. But they weren't there to negotiate.

Five Red River Valley pastors organized a prayer service and dinner for everyone involved with the nearly five month-old American Crystal Sugar lockout.

The prayer service and dinner was held at United Lutheran Church in Grand Forks. Pastors hope the service helped those involved with the lockout come together in unity.

"I'm just hoping that this will help people try to figure out what we're going to do to move on, and as it gets maybe the first of the year maybe something new can come out of it," Renae Fredrickson, company shareholder and locked out Drayton worker, said.

The local faith leaders who organized the service want everyone to overcome their divisions and reconcile.

"One of the realities I expect is that folks are finding all sorts of reasons that might divide us. But especially at this time of the year, at Christmas time, it's important to realize what it is that unifies us, and that can be our faith, even in the midst of real difficulties," Pastor Jeff Sandgren from Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo said.

Locked out workers from the five plants along the valley, growers, shareholders, board members and even a few company executives came together in prayer and song.

"We've talked to our brothers and sisters up and down the valley knowing who was going to be coming and whatever. But, hopefully we all hear the same message," Fredrickson said.

"What I'm hearing from people, I think from all parts of the community, is that they really want resolution. They want things to be resolved," Sandgren said.

The dinner was paid for by an anonymous donor. Many locked-out workers say they've felt especially thankful this holiday season with toy donations and people in the community reaching out to help them.

American Crystal Sugar CEO Dave Berg and Vice President Brian Ingulsrud attended both the prayer service and dinner.

No one from the company has spoke publicly since Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton sent a letter asking both sides to negotiate until they reach an agreement.

But, many locked-out workers were surprised to see them there.

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