Can Easterfest Be Saved?
Those of you who follow this blog, know that I have a specific agenda – that of working toward advancing the Kingdom of God. You would also know that the specific thesis that I have been developing is that a strong way to champion the cause of changing our culture to that of a Kingdom culture is through the Arts.
It’s this predisposition that causes me to be particularly enthusiastic about Easterfest. For me, it represents a significant step forward toward the Kingdom of God. It is a situation where Christian love is the emphasis of a non-denominational, inter-generational, unified body of Christ experience. We live together in unity for four days. Together we listen to bands and we worship. We are challenged to think harder at forums. We are inspired by the stories of our heroes. We learn and network and together create strategies for advancing the Kingdom. We play and have fun together to celebrate life. We celebrate and encourage new local artists, usually young, Christian men and women boldly using their God-given talents to proclaim truth and life and love.
We brought a group of just under 130 to Easterfest this year. The oldest camping with us was a married couple in their mid-sixties and the youngest were some young primary school children. There were a lot of people in their teens and twenties, but there were a lot that weren’t as well. My wife and I were enjoying some of the amazing range of multicultural food that is available there when a man named Bill approached us. He chatted with us for some time. He told us that he was 75 and loved coming to Easterfest each year. I would certainly value the opportunity to still be attending Easterfest in a few decades time when I’m that age. At the moment, this would seem unlikely.
Falling ticket sales and sources of income teamed with rising costs have meant that Easterfest as it is now is financially unsustainable and can not continue.
One of the key players in the leadership team, Dave Schenk, is quick to point out that God doesn’t love Easterfest, He loves people. The board is always mindful that Easterfest must always only be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Dave says that, “Obviously it is an uncertain time for us right now & we do not know for sure what the future holds but I feel such a peace in this ‘awkward in-between’ space (a phrase coined by Chad Johnson preaching on Easter Saturday). We can’t see anything clearly yet but we can see Him & that is all we need because I don’t need to understand to trust.” As I see it, Easterfest is a means of expanding the Kingdom. It is a an effective and propitious tool in the hand of God, giving all who enter a taste of what the Kingdom is like and the opportunity to take it back to their own contexts. That doesn’t mean that absolutely everything is plain sailing. In Acts 14:22, Paul and Barnabus point out that we must suffer a lot to enter God’s Kingdom. Mud, difficult toilets, leaky tents, admission fees, line ups… all first world problems that introduce a little suffering – but in those times, at Easterfest we see people embracing these things. Trials and difficulties at Easterfest are mostly met with community spirit. People help each other out. They show love and concern for each other and value others above themselves. They laugh and joke and embrace the problems with a light heart and a warm spirit.
Those people who say that they’re not coming to Easterfest this year because one of their most favourite bands isn’t going to be there have completely missed the point. Easterfest is not about worshiping some big name American. It is about community and the advancement of the Kingdom. It’s about corporately celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ and the joy and peace that comes from redemption and salvation.
I believe that Easterfest is crucial to the development of culture change and to the life of the Church in Queensland. So the question is hanging: Can Easterfest be saved?
How it stands at the moment.
The few skeleton staff left are employed until June. A definite decision will have to be made by then. At this point, the board believes that it is God’s intention for Easterfest to continue in some form. What that may look like is yet to be established. A big name act has already confirmed that if it is on, they will be here. The expenses for this year are pretty much covered. The problem is that there is currently no money to move forwards.
What you can do.
Foremost, we must pray. Pray for unity among the Church of Toowoomba. There are many different denominations and distinctive parts of the Body of Christ there. For Easterfest to have any chance at being a means to ushering in the Kingdom, there must be Christian unity. Pray that the staff and the board would have excellent ideas, deep wisdom and would be very comfortable that they are receiving directions directly from God. For the event itself, pray that support from Christians would be strong and ticket sales would be plentiful.
In faith, prepare to come to Easterfest 2016 and prepare to bring as many family and friends as possible. When somebody says to you that they don’t want to come because none of their favourite bands are playing, respond with, “They have music at Easterfest?!?” We must help people see that Easterfest is not about the bands or even the music.
A strong source of funding for the last three years has been the Queensland State Government. This funding has now finished and it is unknown if it will be renewed. In keeping with 1 Thessalonians 5:18, it would be highly appropriate to write to your state member of parliament, to the Premier and Minister for the Arts, Annastacia Palaszczuk and to the Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Small Business, Kate Jones. Thank them sincerely for the funding which the State Government has given to support Easterfest over the past three years. Congratulate them on understanding the importance of the Arts in our society. Relate a great new local artist that you’ve discovered at Easterfest. Tell them about all the new friends you’ve made from the large numbers of people who have come from other states like New South Wales. Let them know that you are confident that they will see the importance of continuing to support such an important event. You can cut and paste the same email to all three people.
No doubt other ways that you can help save Easterfest will arise and as they do, I will let you know about them.
Ever changing: Thy Kingdom come
(PS Click photos to see them full size)
There are no comments on this entry.