Starting Thursday, the bygone staple of the tent revival will be reincarnated on a bucolic North Carolina farm as The Wild Goose Festival. Nearly 10 years in the making, the festival is an attempt to reimagine Christianity for the 21st century under a bigger, wider more inclusive tent.
The four-day festival is expected to draw thousands of young campers and some of the leading lights of the so-called Emergent Christianity movement.
With musicians such as David Wilcox and Michelle Shocked, and speakers such as Brian McLaren, Jay Bakker, and Shane Claiborne, festival leaders hope to establish the premier venue for 20-somethings who love God but aren’t thrilled with institutional Christianity, particularly the religious right.
“We want to look each other in the eye and say, ‘We may not agree on everything but we’re going to recognize our essential humanity,'” said Mike Morrell, a blogger in Raleigh, N.C., and festival spokesman.
Festival planners are a diverse bunch. They include more traditional evangelicals alongside emergent church leaders, neo-monastics and progressive Christians. Organizers want to distance themselves from the politicized versions of Christianity, and re-engage in social justice work — particularly prison reform, a topic of some of the sessions.
They will converge on Shakori Hills, a 72-acre tract of forest and meadows in North Carolina’s Piedmont region, better known as the site of an annual roots music festival.
Wild Goose leaders share a conviction that there are multiple streams of Christianity flowing into one river.