Music Festival Ministry Attends Audiofeed
CHAMPAIGN, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — On July 5-6, 2013, Priest Joel Weir, Rector of Saint Stephen the First Martyr Church, Crawfordsville, IN, and Stephen Wendland, a member of Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Church, Cincinnati, OH, attended the Audiofeed Music Festival here.
“Attendance at the inaugural year for Audiofeed — a Christian music and arts festival — marked a continuation of a music festival ministry which began two years ago and has involved alumni from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA, and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, and representatives from the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry,” Father Joel said. “We’ve received consistent support from the Diocese of the Midwest.”
Father Joel explained that “the work of the ministry includes operating a ‘vendor booth’ at the festival that features Orthodox Christian literature, informational pamphlets, icons, and even t-shirts and music provided by Ancient Church Arts (www.ancientchurcharts.com). In the past two years, the group also offered morning and evening prayers in the Orthodox Tradition and short seminars to the festivalgoers.
“We kept things simple this year, as we did not know what this festival would be like,” Father Joel added, “but it was really encouraging to see people who remembered us from Cornerstone and were even asking about the prayer services. We talked to the festival organizers, and it is something that, Lord willing, we will be doing again next year when we return.”
The booth this year also served to raise awareness and funds for FOCUS North America.
“The connection with the real work the Orthodox Church is doing in addressing poverty issues in America seemed like a perfect addition to the work of providing a ministry of presence and information about Orthodoxy,” Father Joel said. “Many people who come to these festivals are actually pretty serious about their faith, so they have excellent questions concerning church history, or doctrine, but there is also a strong interest in issues of ‘social justice’. To be able to not only provide good resources for learning more about Orthodoxy, but also to show how this faith is lived in addressing the least among us in America made for a good, clear message for why we were there.“
Father Joel added that this year, the Diocese of the Midwest provided generously for the team’s participation and funded the purchase of books that were available to festival goers for a donation to FOCUS. The group raised $110 for FOCUS North America while engaging in dozens of conversations over the two days.
“We’ve already seen the fruit of the work of the past years at Cornerstone,” said Father Joel. “There have been numerous stories, e-mails and calls I’ve received about people visiting an Orthodox Church for the first time, or even becoming catechumens, based on a first conversation they had at a festival. It’s so important, in a day where so many Christians, especially young Christians, are finding themselves dissatisfied or restless with what ‘church’ is. There is some seriously honest seeking going on, and people are looking to the ancient faith. It’s critical that we be simply present, a part of the conversation, so that we can present Orthodoxy, and, for converts like me, present the story of our journey.”
In addition to the support of the Diocese of the Midwest, the group also received support from Priest James Ellison of Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Champaign, IL, and the local chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, which generously provided lodging at the campus house.