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Rick Meredith

Southern Identity and Doing God’s Work

By Goose News, Guest PostOne Comment

Guest Post by Layton E. Williams

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Washington, D.C., for the first time since leaving the job that had kept me in D.C. for two years. Last fall, I left that city to move back to the South—the region in which I’d been born and raised—to Charleston, South Carolina, which my family has called home for a number of years.

When I arrived back in D.C., I fell easily into the rhythms of my former life. One morning, I put on my clergy collar and a stole and attended a rally and march to the White House led by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Then I spent three days attending Sojourners’ Summit for Change, a convening of faith leaders dedicated to seeking justice for all people and the transformation of the world. It was invigorating to be back in such powerful spaces, surrounded by others who share my convictions, united in a singular effort to counteract a harmful administration and fight for a better reality. It was motivating, empowering, and frankly relaxing to return to that world—where “fighting with” generally means “fighting alongside” rather than “fighting against.”

When the week ended, I hugged my progressive Christian friends goodbye and drove through the winding mountain highways of Virginia and North Carolina back down to the marshy waterways of low country South Carolina—a home where almost no one I know and love shares my set of political, theological, and ideological beliefs. Some disagree with my queerness; others disagree with my perspective on the current administration and its policies; and still others disagree with my convictions about our primary calling as Christians to love and seek justice. To my D.C. friends it must seem strange that I chose to leave behind my life of daily justice work and protests in favor of returning to a region that isn’t exactly known for its commitment to rapid progress. Yet this is the place God called me to return to, as minister and truthteller, to do my part in the hard and unending work of putting this broken world back together.

During a time in which the injustices and brokenness of this world seem overwhelming, the problems insurmountable, and the solutions intangible—life in D.C. gave me endless opportunities to respond and take action. It was good, important, exhausting, and inspiring work. But I couldn’t shake a growing nudge that it was time to return home to the South. On the one hand, I had friends and fellow activists telling folks that we needed to “come get our people” and on the other hand, I had the very real fear that, if the world divided entirely into factions of the like-minded, I would find myself separated across that gaping chasm from the people I love most—my family. I also knew, deep down in my bones, that for all its flaws, the South holds a particular kind of deep capacity for transformation and growth.

I have always challenged talk of coastal elites as if those of us living in big cities are all one homogenous group of intellectual urbanites, disconnected from the realities of the rest of America. Most of the people I’ve known in the big cities I’ve lived in come from smaller places, working class families, and complex and nuanced backgrounds. And I’ve been similarly frustrated by the rush to write off the region I come from as a lost cause—hopelessly racist, isolationist, and bigoted. Like my friends in the coastal cities, the South is complicated. It has a painful history and some very real painful realities in its present. But I’d argue that in a way, that sets up Southerners to be particularly capable of wrestling with the complex issues that face our country and our world now.

The South can’t hide from its past and it can’t fix it, so those of us who claim the South as home are forced to reckon with its hard, unresolved, complex realities, its scars and wounds, right alongside its beauty. We carve out life in the midst of all of that. Communal life is so crucial here. We show up for one another. And it’s true, that there can be distrust toward outsiders, but it’s also true that differences—even very significant differences—can be overcome and even embraced as community between people develops. With that embrace of community, we sow the seeds for real transformation and justice.

At one point during my time in D.C., I couldn’t name the last time I’d interacted with someone who didn’t share my political views. In Charleston, I do that every single day: my hairstylist, my favorite bartender, my neighbors, and my family members all identify as something other than liberal. And on Sunday mornings, I show up to church and minister to a group of people who intentionally come together to confront and wrestle with the hard questions of faith—from reckoning with racism and bigotry to who deserves mercy—even across their deeply different perspectives. Change in the South does feel slower, more incremental, than I experienced in D.C. But it happens through relationship, on a human level, which gives that change a strength of foundation, a transformative power, that abstract concepts cannot achieve in the same way. And I have privilege that allows me to do this work in this place. My whiteness, my southernness, and the fact that my queerness isn’t readily evident allow me to move with relative freedom in spaces and conversations in ways that others aren’t able to. And that is part of why I recognize that this hard and holy work is mine to do.

In the closing sermon of that D.C. conference I attended, Rev. Traci Blackmon said this about our call to justice and faith, “Activism is part of discipleship, but the difference is that our goal can never be the annihilation of other people. As followers of The Way, our goal is the redemption of all people…even those who stand against us.”

I don’t believe the way to a better world will come from forcing a hollow unity that delays justice, silences truth, and offers only superficial inclusion to those on the margins. But I also don’t believe the way forward is to annihilate everyone unlike us…or anyone for that matter. The way forward is through relationship—complex, honest, human relationship—which allows us to persist in and learn from our state of disunity and hold on to both our firm commitments to justice and to one another. And I believe the South, with its deep roots in hospitality and community, can show the way.

 

Layton E. Williams is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a writer. She is the author of Holy Disunity: How What Separate Us Can Save Us, forthcoming this October from Westminster John Knox Press. She earned a MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Rev. Barber Wakes the 2019 Goose

By Goose NewsNo Comments

Rev. Dr. William Barber, II – Saturday morning – WILD, Wild Goose!

Rev. Barber and testifiers from the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will “Wake the Goose” on Saturday morning! It will be monumental – it will move us – it will disrupt us – and we will be better equipped and more urgently empowered to create the world in which we want to live.

No one alive today understands more clearly the hidden community held in place by the systems of poverty and no one more urgently lifts us and leads us into action than Rev. Barber.

Winter Ticket Prices end soon – March 21. Get yours now!

Alexia, John, The Liturgusts, Amythyst, & The Collection

By Goose NewsNo Comments

Bring your curiosity! Bring your creativity! Bring your courage! And, by all means bring your dancing shoes ok, dancing feet – shoes optional – It’s the WILD, Wild Goose!    TICKETS

The Liturgists and John Pavlovitz will push us and prod us and we’ll think more broadly and act more boldly. Alexia Salvatierra writes the real news of the real world everyday with her courageous engagement. Amythyst Kiah may not be on your playlist YET, but she’s on Amy Ray’s – and she’s in a supergroup with Rhiannon Giddens.

Get your opening night party on withThe Collection!

Don’t forget Otis Moss IIIBishop Yvette FlunderNadia Bolz-WeberTony CampoloPete Enns, and Beth Nielsen Chapman. And we’re just getting started – hundreds more to come!

Getting excited about this year’s festival? Check out the new Wild Goose Podcast for highlights of 2018. New episodes every week!

Post it! Share it! And buy tickets! See you in July!

Otis, Nadia, Tony, Pete, Yvette, Beth and more – A Wild, Wild Goose!

By 2019 Festival, Goose NewsNo Comments

Hey, Wild Goose what do we do between the time Otis Moss III gathers the 2019 Goose on Thursday evening and Bishop Yvette Flunder sends the Goose out on Sunday morning? We add Nadia Bolz-WeberTony Campolo, and Pete Enns into the mix and we bring Beth Nielsen Chapman to sing – AND THAT’S JUST FOR STARTERS – and we have another really great, really WILD, Wild Goose!

Yes, you got it, we open with OM3 and we close with Bishop Flunder, and Nadia, and Tony, and Pete, and Beth – and more and more to come!

Are you as excited as we are? Help us spread the word!

Open Call for 2019 Co-Creators

By 2018 Festival

It’s time again to let us know what YOU would like to do at Wild Goose!

The contributions of our “self-submits” each year are at the heart of what make the Goose a unique co-creation experience, surprising and unlike other “festivals.” This is a festival where people come together to make things,  wonder and ponder and discuss, cross boundaries, fire up imaginations, undo expectations.

Think about how you can design experiences that engage rather than lecture, raise questions rather than shut them down. How could you tailor your work to involve your audience, making space for participation? How can you go outside normal boundaries to increase the level of interactivity? Push beyond the expected in ways that will actively involve your audience. See yourself as an instigator not a “presenter” and invite others into an experience of co-creation.

Note to musicians:  A traditional performance is fine – we don’t expect you to change your performance into an interactive experience.

Because this festival is about the intersection of Spirit, Art, Music and Justice, we ask all our co-creators to consider how they can create integrated experiences – so you might, for example, want to look at justice through the lens of spirit and/or music, or at spirituality through the lens of art and/or justice.  And in whatever you do, keep in mind the power of Story – it’s part of the Goose DNA: What are our shared narratives? How have they shaped us?

Stories bring us together, stories can change us – whether we’re telling them or hearing them. We believe stories can change the world. So we hope that you will let the power of story weave its way into any type of experience you bring to the Goose.

We’d like to also suggest that you keep these words in front of you as you craft your contribution: Lament. Welcome. Identity. Evolve. Revolution. Love. Freedom. Liberate. Resist. Believe. Converge.

What do these concepts say to you and how might you integrate any of them into your performance or presentation?

Entries will close at Midnight PST, Sunday, January 13 2019.

Dream the Dream that will Co-Create the world. Something so cool it’ll register on seismic meters – or at least will be fun or challenging or perhaps even a bit unsettling.

Click here for all the details and a form to enter the submission process:


Sorry, entries are closed for 2019! 

Spirit. Love. Justice. Dirt.

By 2018 Announcements, Goose News, Guest PostNo Comments

Guest post by breathesinglove

7/14/18, Hot Springs Campground

I am literally covered in dirt. Sweat is dripping down my…well, everywhere. Noises surround me in a beautiful symphony of love and peace. Justice-seeking people of all ages singing, dancing, listening, sharing stories while drinking beer or fresh squeezed lemonade. Everyone around me is covered in dirt, too. Some have body paint or colored powder on their bodies, some have glitter feathers in their hair. Many have sayings or symbols on their clothing, promoting love, community, peace, hope.

Our hearts are so full of joy and the sense of community is so strong that we don’t notice whether or not the stranger next to us is covered in dirt or took their “showers” in the river yesterday. Near the bench where I sit is the amazing Mark Miller leading us in worship, saying, “You are a child of God. No matter what the world says or thinks about you.”

Someone just brought me a chocolate, with a smile and a sense of gratitude for sharing my story. This stranger I met just a few minutes ago, and now we share things. Yesterday I was invited to a potluck supper, to share in a meal with a “tribe with no name.” I had nothing to offer but a smile and grateful heart, and the tribe welcomed me without question. Some familiar faces around the campsite greeted me with smiles and hugs.

————————

The Wild Goose Festival is a place where strangers quickly become friends, where the Spirit’s presence is thicker than the humidity, and the kingdom of God is a glimmer in each person’s eyes. Hope stirs in our souls and permeates the campground as each person’s voice enters the conversation and is honored and celebrated. We lament with one another as we share stories of grief, pain, and suffering. We celebrate one another’s uniqueness and the beautiful expressions of community and interconnectedness. Art, music, storytelling, nature, food, drinks, laughter, hugs, silence, dancing, conversation, meditation, blessings, prayers, chants –these are our ways of engaging with one another and with God. This is how we “goose.”

Each year I leave the Goose with a heart full of gratitude, a mind buzzing with ideas, and a greater sense of hope, that I am not alone in this work of compassion and justice. I’m inspired to keep breaking down the walls of prejudice and leading people into a greater sense of community, based on God’s unconditional love and grace.

I am “Deacon Shannon.”  This is my story.

Shannon LeMaster-Smith is a Deacon in the United Methodist Church, a clergy order ordained to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. She currently serves in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. She has a M.A. in Conflict Resolution and 10+ years of experience in youth ministry. Her call is to help people experience the transforming love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and to equip and empower them to share God’s love and grace with others. She enjoys singing and playing board games and is married to her best friend, Dr. Jonathan LeMaster-Smith.

Bryan Johnson, Paula Williams, T. Anthony Spearman, Tony Campolo, Dan White Hodge

By 2018 FestivalNo Comments

Every single year, the circle grows wider and wider! We want to be a community on the leading edge of conversations surrounding ministry, faith, and intersectional justice. That’s why we are thrilled to have these amazing leaders, pastors, and activists join us at #WildGoose2018.

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet and engage with these incredible minds this summer. Get registered for the Wild Goose Festival today!

Bryan Johnson & Trinity UCC Choir 
Bryan Johnson is the Executive Director of Sacred Music and Movement at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Under Bryan’s direction, leadership, and teaching, all genres of African American sacred music – from the drums and complex harmonies of West Africa; to the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of the West Indies; to the jazz and blues influences of the southern United States; to traditional, contemporary, and neo-soul forms of American gospel – are performed by Trinity’s choirs and liturgical groups. He is the executive producer of “Stay Connected,” Trinity’s latest music project, which debuted earlier this year at #5 on Billboard’s gospel charts.

A native of Chicago, Bryan received his Master of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. His family roots from Jamaica, Barbados, and Louisiana helped form the foundation of his musical prowess. He is heavily influenced by gospel greats such as Charles Clency and Thomas Whitfield. Additional musical influencers include Dave Grusin, David Foster, and other jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul artists.

Since 1990 he has been married to his wonderful wife, Joi Buchanan-Johnson.

http://wildgoosefestival.org/bryan-johnson18

Paula Williams
Rev. Dr. Paula Williams is a nationally known speaker on gender equity and transgender advocacy. She is also the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado, and the president of RLT Pathways, Inc., a non-profit providing counseling and coaching services. Paula serves on the board of the Q Christian Fellowship, the Union of Affirming Christians, and the WITH Network of progressive churches. As a transgender pastor, Paula has been featured in the New York Times, the Denver Post, NPR and The Huffington Post. Paula’s TEDxMileHigh talk on gender equality has been viewed over a half million times on YouTube.

paulastonewilliams.com
https://www.tedxmilehigh.com/speaker/paula-stone-williams/

T. Anthony Spearman 
Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is the senior pastor of St. Phillip A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, the third vice president of the North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches, and a candidate to become the civil rights organization’s next permanent state president now that Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is stepping away from the post he’s held for 12 years.

He is a key leader in the Moral Monday and Forward Together Movement that has brought national attention to the broad coalition of social justice organizations that are working together to change recent legislation in North Carolina that denied the expansion of Medicaid, significantly reduced access to early voting, eliminated Sunday voting, cut unemployment benefits to long-term unemployed people, and reduced the number of teachers in public schools. During his time in Greensboro in the 90’s, Dr. Spearman was a member of the Pulpit Forum, a group of primarily African-American ministers who stood in solidarity with Greensboro K-Mart workers who were asking for wage parity with K-Mart employees in other states as well as an increase in paid holidays and sick days. Dr. Spearman is a regular fixture at Moral Monday protests all across the state.

https://naacpnc.org/rev-t-anthony-spearman/

Tony Campolo 
Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University and a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization which he founded to create and support programs serving needy communities. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the progressive Christian movement, Red Letter Christians, as well as for the Campolo Center for Ministry, a program which provides support to those the Church has called to full-time ministry. He has written more than 35 books and can be found blogging regularly on tonycampolo.org and redletterchristians.org. Tony and his wife, Peggy, live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

https://tonycampolo.org/

Dan White Hodge 
Daniel White Hodge, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry at North Park University in Chicago. Dr. Hodge has worked in the urban youth and Hip Hop context for over 20 years. He is also the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal Of Hip Hop Studies.

Dr. Hodge, a Hip Hop scholar and urban youth specialist, focuses on Hip Hop Studies, urban/ city youth culture and development, race relations, film, pop culture trends, and spirituality. Having received his PhD from Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, his dissertation focused on the life, theology, and spiritual message of Tupac Amaru Shakur (TITLE: Baptized in Dirty Water: The Missiological Gospel of Tupac Amaru Shakur).

Dr. Hodge and his wife, Emily, and daughter, Mahalia Joy, currently reside in Chicago.

https://www.whitehodge.com

RV & Glamping Sites Open for 2018

By Goose News5 Comments

Want to come to the Goose but tent camping’s not really your thing? RV sites are now available, but hurry, we have limited availability. We have some RV parking with full hookups (power, water, sewer, electrical) and we have RV parking without full hookups. But if you still want power in the No Hook Up lot, no problem! Simply add a generator to your RV ticket, pick the size you need, and we’ll have it waiting for you when you arrive at the festival.

Or maybe Glamping is more your style. This year you have a choice! The Wild Goose Festival is excited to announce we’ve added a new glamping site to the festival map for this year. You now have the choice between City Glamping and Country Glamping.

City Glamping is right in middle of all of the action. It’s in the same location as the last year – straddling the heartbeat of the Wild Goose hustle and bustle. It’s like a downtown Wild Goose neighborhood.

 

Country Glamping is close and convenient. It’s a little quieter, and just across the street in the Rockery of the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. You’ll enjoy a picturesque surrounding and wake to the sound of a babbling brook right out your front door – all while still being a conveniently short walk from the heart of the festival! It’s very close (it’s on the spa site), convenient, and beautiful – a tempting combination. It’s a Wild Goose first and we think it’ll be a Wild Goose favorite.

And if your church or community group plans to head to the Goose together, you could qualify for special discounted tickets. Check out the rates below and email Vanna for your group discount code.

TICKETS

Group of 10+
Adult – $169.00
Senior 65+ – $149.00
Student – $99.00
Youth 13-17 – $49.00
Children 0-12 – Free

Wild Goose Winter Pricing Ends Tonight, March 19

By Goose NewsNo Comments

Today’s the last chance for Wild Goose winter ticket pricing! It ends tonight, March 19, at Midnight Pacific Daylight Time.

With a lineup including Amy Grant, Jacqui Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor, John Pavlovitz, Ruby Sales, Jen Hatmaker, Otis Moss III (along with the Trinity UCC choir), Brian McLaren, The Red Dirt Boys (Emmylou Harris’ band with Phil Madeira and the Barber twins on horns) – and many more Wild Goose favorites to come – it’s a year not to be missed!