My life changed when I went to a Christian festival in the UK in the 1990s. The same could happen to you if you come to the Christian music and social justice festival happening in the U.S. this summer -- which I am about to tell you about!
People often ask me how I met my English wife, Joy Carroll, who was one of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England. The answer always evokes good memories of the Greenbelt Festival in England, where more than 20,000 people gather each year at the end of August for a Woodstock-like event, with a twist. The focus is faith, music, arts, and a heavy dose of justice. Christians gather to celebrate God's good gifts and work out how to be people of faith with integrity.
At the 1994 Greenbelt, amidst the music, art, and non profit organizations discussing how to bring about global justice, seminars, and workshops, Joy and I found ourselves on a panel debating the topic, "What's the point of being an Evangelical?" -- a topic we still disagree on today, 16 years later! She quickly attracted my attention and a two-year, trans-Atlantic romance led to the family that now consists of the loves of my life: my wife and my two wonderful boys, Luke and Jack.
Over the years, many American artists and speakers have been contributors at Greenbelt, and I have been there many times. But the question has often been asked, "Why don't we have anything like Greenbelt in the United States?" Well now there is! Joy and the Wild Goose planning team have been working hard to put together the very first American festival modeled after Greenbelt.
The Wild Goose Festival will be an annual North American justice, spirituality, and art festival beginning next June 23 to 26, 2011, at the Shakori Hills campground in North Carolina. I urge you to go to wildgoosefestival.org to learn more and buy your tickets. A "wild goose" is the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit -- wild and unpredictable, but holy at the same time.
Sojourners and the Wild Goose Festival share many common resonances, including a deep commitment to matters of social justice, creating a moral economy, peacemaking, prison reform, and ecumenical and interfaith engagement -- all from the deep roots of the Christian tradition.
It's a different kind of festival that blurs traditional lines between speakers and those being spoken to, the organizers and attendees. I'm looking forward to not only speaking, but being a part of the entire event with all of those who attend.
I look forward to meeting you there.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.