Sunday, June 03, 2012

Greenbelt Festival, Wild Goose Festival and Bread for the World

The Greenbelt festival in England and Bread for the World came on the scene at about the same time in the mid-1970s to reinforce the message that faith and social justice are very closely linked.

I would venture to guess that most of you reading this blog post know that  Bread for the World  has worked primarily through advocacy, education and networking.

But what do we know about Greenbelt? For the past 40 years, Greenbelt has spread the message by linking the arts, faith and justice through a three-day festival in August at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire in southwestern England. This year, the festival will be held on Aug. 24-27, featuring a varied lineup of music, speakers, literature, visual arts, comedy, and children's events--all related to faith and justice. One of the speakers is Shane Claiborne, a presenter at the Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque in March 2009.

Second Year for Wild Goose Festival
Now we have another common thread: The Wild Goose Festival, a three-day event that brings together justice, spirituality, music and art.  Sound familiar?

Here's a note from the Wild Goose Festival Web site:
"Many people from the US have returned from Greenbelt wanting to see a festival like this emerge here. Greenbelt has served as a source of inspiration to our team in many ways. It manages to embody creativity and social action, launching some important initiatives like the One Campaign in Europe and the Jubilee 2000 campaign to end Third World debt. We also love how Greenbelt brings people together from different Christian traditions and also welcomes people who don’t identify as Christian."
Wild Goose draws inspiration from other  events that feature a connection between the arts, and/or justice, and/or ecumenical traditions, such as Burning Man, the Iona Community, and SXSW.

So why the name Wild Goose?
The Wild Goose is a Celtic spirituality metaphor that evokes unpredictability, beauty, and grace. The festival resonates with this image because we recognize that in the current climate of religious and political division and lack of civility, embracing the creative and open nature of our faith is perhaps our greatest asset for re-building and strengthening our relationships with each other, with our enemies, with our stories, our questions, and the other. In that spirit, in an informal setting, and in the context of creative and respectful relationships, we invite you to imagine a new world with us.
The Wild Goose Festival is fairly young,but is growing in popularity.  The event will be held for the second year  at Shakori Hills Farm, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on  June 21-24.  The festival has a great lineup of musicians and speakers. There are many things in common with Greenbelt: a justice theme, a focus on worship and sacred space, children's activities, and an opportunity for art and expression. 

Here is a promo for this year's festival (including Bread member Lynn Hybels and Bread board member Gabriel Salguero).

Bread for the World at Wild Goose
So where does Bread come in?  This year, the organization is a sponsor of  the festival and will host a "Concert for Justice" on Friday, June 22, at 10:00 p.m. This concert, which will be held at The Coffee Barn venue, will feature Bread member Bryan Field McFarland and his band Jacob's Join, as well as members of The Collection and Songs of Water.

Bread for the World President David Beckmann is one of the speakers on Saturday, June 23. He will offer a presentation entitled Imagine an Exodus from Hunger at 5:00 p.m. at the Exodus venue.  (Hmmm....David is author of a book with a similar title).

Here is part of his bio on the festival Web site.
World Food Prize laureate David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for hungry and poor people.  He has been president of Bread for the World since 1991, leading large-scale and successful campaigns to strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome in the poverty in the USA and globally.
Some of the other speakers have a Bread connection. Seth Wispelway, a former Bread for the World organizer (back when we had an office in Austin), is now field organizer for Justice Campaigns with International Justice Mission. Lisa Sharon Harper, executive director of New York Faith and Justice, was a featured speaker at the Bread national gathering in 2009 in Washington.  Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, helped launch the Circle of Protection campaign along with David Beckmann, Tony Hall and others.

(Note: This year there is a Wild Goose West planned for Benton County, Oregon, on Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2.  Will Bread be there too? Stay tuned for details).

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