Guest Post


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Why I have a Wild Goose Tattoo
By Richard Kennel

I didn’t fit in anywhere. My progressive, independent science-loving free thinking spirit had become spiritually flat, drained, and lifeless. The churches and groups with whom I had been involved were too conservative; too religious; too exclusive. So I went online trying to find if there was some church or group where I could feel I belonged, that didn’t claim to know the truth, and wasn’t exclusionary.

Somehow in my searching I came across the Wild Goose website. I could not believe it. I thought, “Holy shit! You mean there are real people out there like this?”

So I drove to the 2014 Wild Goose. As soon as I hit the grounds, I knew I was in the right place. The people, the music, the speakers, Beer and Hymns—all confirmed that this is what I had been missing. This was what I’d been looking for, but had been unable to define.

My defining Goose Moment that year came when I went to Reba Riley’s presentation: “Post-traumatic Church Syndrome.” Reba used a mirrored “disco ball” as a metaphor for people’s’ understanding of God. I heard her say, “Each of us sees a small bit of the reflected light, but no one of us grasps the entire scope of God’s essence.” For some reason, that hit me like a hurricane! It felt as if the heavy yoke of years of searching, struggling, and oppression were lifted. I was emotionally overwhelmed. Then Reba said, “Now turn to someone next to you and talk about what this means for you.” I turned to the woman next to me and choked out: “I think you had better go first.” She looked me straight in the eye and said, “No—I think YOU need to go first.” At that I broke into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. The sense of being home at last was too overwhelming. I was unable to utter another word, but God bless her—that woman just sat with me and was present for me. I dearly wish I’d gotten her name.

When I came home after that experience, I knew I was a different person, and I could not return to the church I had been attending with my wife. At the time, she was in Florida visiting a friend, so I decided to start church shopping. To this day I don’t remember how or why I chose the church I did, but that first choice was it. When I was sitting in the pew in that first service and heard the (female) pastor begin her prayer with: “Mother, Father God…” I knew I was where I belonged. I’ve been attending ever since.

I felt I had to commemorate this life-changing experience somehow. In all my 61 years of existence, I never once had any desire whatsoever to get a tattoo. Now, however, I knew that was exactly what I needed. I now have the Wild Goose logo from that year on my forearm as a permanent reminder of my own personal burning-bush experience.
Richard Kennel

Do you have a Goose tattoo? Tell us about it!

Find a quiet place to read this

By | Guest Post | One Comment

May the Sacrament of the Word and the hunger of our hearts meet, leading us ever more deeply into your heart, O God. Amen.

Guest Post by Gwen Fry

Having grown up in The Episcopal Church the most cherished memory I have as a child in the pew was hearing the sentence at the end of our Gospel reading today spoken/read during the service out of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. I distinctly remember setting aside the weekly hang man game I was playing with my friend in the pew when the service neared that point in the liturgy in anticipation of the incredibly freeing and hopeful string of words. This is how it sounded to my youthful ears all those years ago. “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” I can still feel the lightness in my heart and weight off my shoulders as those words of comfort washed over and through me.
I was happy to see that with the Book of Common Prayer revision that the comfortable words were still there in the Rite 1 Eucharist. What I did not expect was what appeared with the new addition of Compline to the prayer book. This office instantly became my favorite daily office because of its pastoral tone and ease with which it flowed as the last office of the day. It really did, at least for me, make for a “peaceful night and perfect end.” I think part of that was because of the prayer that begins “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night”…. But the biggest reason was because of one of the reading options. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

And so I’ve carried these particular verses as a touchstone throughout my life. I never totally understood the profound transformative effect they have had on me until rather recently. I mean, I knew they were restful and brought a deep sense of peace to my inner life. But it wasn’t until two years ago that it was literally made manifest in my life. It was in July of 2015, the first time I attended The Wild Goose Festival, a four day festival at the intersection of spirit, justice, music, and art, in Hot Springs, North Carolina. I was invited to be a panelist in a session titled Sacred Wounds: Healing from Spiritual Trauma. I was scared to death, for many reasons that summer, and I don’t mind letting people know that in the least. I had never participated in a national event before. I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in what I had to say. I didn’t know how hundreds of festival attendees would react to me. My experience everywhere I went drew attention from people. And in those days it wasn’t positive attention. What I experienced upon my arrival at the festival was nothing short of transformative. The first thing I noticed was that those few hundred I thought that were going to attend was more like 5,000. And there wasn’t one single smirk or stare. No sideward glances or people pointing at me and saying something to their friend. It was so noticeable because of the absence of those things.

For the first time in a long time I was accepted, no questions asked, and I felt absolutely safe in that space. As luck would have it my session was on the first day of the festival. That first evening I was introduced to an event called Beer and Hymns. Yes, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. People gathered and sang good old time Gospel hymns while having a beer. Well, most of them were gospel hymns. The one that drew me into the circle like a magnet was actually a song by U2 off of their Joshua Tree album titled I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. It is an amazing song, well gospel hymn. Listen to it if you haven’t heard it before. It’s a song about searching for God, searching for Christ.

The opening lyrics are:

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for

Later in the evening the Episcopal tent at the festival hosted the nightly Compline service. There were about 100 people gathered in a circle as we prayed. Lord, grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. And then, those amazing peaceful transformative words, those particular verses that have been a touchstone for me throughout my life, washed over and through me like never before.
While I walked back to my room for the night it suddenly all fell into place for me. We all are constantly searching for God and the sacred in life and rarely do we find what we are looking for. We carry the heavy burdens that fill our lives with us wherever we go and they weigh us down to the point that it doesn’t seem possible to take another step or climb yet another wall in our search. But there will be that day – and time – and place – where those words of comfort and comfortable words become manifest. When you least expect it as you find yourself in a very scary place in your life that touchstone will be there waiting for you. And the word will become flesh before your very eyes. It will be obvious to you because there will be no stares or sneers, no pointing and whispering. There will be only total unconditional acceptance where you will discover that heavy yoke has been lifted and replaced with one that is easy and light. It will be made manifest in your presence and look like 5,000 people gathered because they too have come there searching hurting and carrying their own heavy burdens to find them loosed in a place that gives them rest for their souls. It will be obvious, oh so obvious, because when you least expect it Christ will be made manifest before your very eyes with outstretched arms saying; “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I return to the Wild Goose Festival for a third year this coming week and I can already feel that lightness and peace.

Gwen Fry

The Reverend Gwen Fry is an ordained Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Arkansas. Her experience coming out as a trans woman of faith makes her keenly aware of the necessity for the equality of all God’s children.
Experiencing the effects of discrimination first hand, she has been actively involved in the work of justice in the transgender community both in Arkansas and across the Episcopal Church.
Gwen is an advocate and activist for the transgender community who was a leader in the coalition of organizations who fought back the anti-transgender bills introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly this year. She is the Vice President of National Affairs for Integrity USA. She is a board member of Pridecorps, an LGBTQ youth center in Little Rock, Arkansas. An active member of TransEpiscopal, Gwen, also serves on its steering committee.

At the center of a just world, there is a farm.

By | Goose News, Guest Post | One Comment

We’re from Ohio!
When you read the word Ohio, what do you think of? You might think of cows and corn, or of a particular university which refers to itself as “The” university in Ohio. One summer afternoon I was sitting in a classroom on the campus of that university, listening to a young activist/historian lecture high students about colonialism. He was teaching about the violence necessary to wield power over an indigenous people in a foreign land and what it takes to mount a political and economic revolution against such a power.

Suddenly, he said something that blew my mind.
He explained that, when it comes right down to it, there are two basic economic resources: land and labor. As I reflected, it made sense. Of course, resources like food, water, clean air, shelter, and the care of others are critical to physical life, but land and work, and the connection between the two, are the stuff of economic development and power. Taking power over an established culture requires controlling its land and its labor.

From our earliest sacred stories until now, land and labor have been in constant tension.
In the beginning, God provided perfect land for humans. In fact, humans were made of the very humus of the Earth. As we rejected the self-sustaining, self-creating nature of God’s new world, and instead assumed control over it, we found the work harder than expected. In fact, working the land became a primary sentence for human Sin.

A context for injustice.
In the sacred Hebrew stories, we find a people taken from their land and put to work building and serving foreign powers in Egypt, Assyria and elsewhere. And, in the American story, we find that very same thing; people separated from their land and forced to work for the benefit of a violent, profit-driven foreign power.

Also a context for reconciliation and Reign.
It is certainly true that land and work are the basic resources of exploitation for power and profit. But, it is also true that – when used in relationship with God and others – they are the resources for a flourishing community. They are the basic earthly ingredients for a new economy, for God’s will being done on Earth.

For us, farming is at the center of a just world.
At Methodist Theological School in Ohio, we understand farming as a way to reconnect people with land and life, a place where humus and human remember each other. Through Seminary Hill Farm, MTSO’s 10-acre, USDA-certified organic farm, we grow fresh produce and gather fresh eggs for our community. At the intersection of our learning and work in economic, ecological, food, racial, and other forms of justice, we resist…by tending the soil. It’s our practical contribution to God’s “just society.”

Come and see. And, if you see justice in what we do, come and learn with us.
For more information about MTSO and/or Seminary Hill Farm, visit or

Singing in Discomfort

By | Guest Post

Guest post by Bekah Anderson, United Church of Christ
I spent the vast majority of Wild Goose feeling profoundly uncomfortable, and at the same time thrilled, inspired, and energized. I think that’s exactly how I should feel.


From my post at the United Church of Christ hospitality tent, I was in a great position to meet people, because they’d come over to greet fellow UCC folk, or to ask what Queer Clergy Trading Cards are anyway, or, usually in the case of the children, to pick up free Starbursts. I loved talking to these people. I loved learning about where they were from, and what brought them to the Wild Goose. Most of them lived in places geographically far away from my small-town New England life, but in other ways we were often very much alike. We shared a common language. I could talk about being a beloved child of God without feeling like that person who just “made it weird” by bringing religion into the conversation, and I could talk about my passion for social justice without feeling like an “over-zealous” social justice warrior. Several of the worlds I usually find myself inhabiting separately merged together in those conversations, and in some ways, I was more comfortable and at home than I have been in a long time.

At the same time, I was deeply uncomfortable, because my feet were killing me. I spent much of the weekend on my feet at the entrance of the tent, and by about midday on Friday I knew that my body was not going to forgive me for it any time soon. On Saturday we rearranged the tent so I could sit down instead, but for the most part I opted to stay on my feet. Mostly, this was because I felt that people would be more likely to come talk to me if I was standing, waiting for them, but I also felt somehow that my discomfort was part of the point. Should I really be comfortable in a place where so many hard conversations were happening, so many great ideas were being shared, so much of the future was being dreamed? If I stayed comfortable all weekend, it probably meant I wasn’t learning.

I did leave my tent a few times, the first time to attend Stories and Mental Health workshop. Even giving my feet a rest, I was anything but comfortable. The stories I heard that morning were powerful, inspiring, and heartbreaking. They were stories that brought me into contact with experiences and viewpoints I rarely see, and at the same time they reminded me viscerally of my family’s own experiences with mental illness. Sitting in the back of that tent, I was close to tears, moved by the bravery and pain of those around me, even as I remembered my own pain. And this, I realized, is what the beginning of allyship feels like. When you listen to others, when you realize that their pain and experiences are not separate from yours, when you know that for you to be liberated, we all must be.

And later, I attended Set the Captives Free: A Christian Call to End Mass Incarceration. Again, my body was comfortable but my mind was not. Anyone who can be comfortably listen to a discussion about how our criminal justice system targets, imprisons, and disenfranchises black and brown men and other groups is not truly listening. I found myself perched on the edge of my seat, not sure if I wanted to get up and run away from this truth, or rush towards the presenters and beg them to tell me how to dismantle this terrifying, pervasive system. And much to my surprise, they did tell me. They told us all that we can best fight this system when we combine political advocacy and policy work with real human connections and direct support to those who have been caught up in mass incarceration. Hearing these words, I breathed a sigh of relief, although I was still poised at the edge of my chair. “Okay,” I thought. “There’s something I can do. Now I just have to go and do it.” And this, I realized, is what social justice combined with faith feels like. A call to action, a heavy burden of truth, and a spark of hope in our own abilities.

The last moment I would like to remember here is the end of the closing liturgy, where we all stood in a circle and held hands as we sang, “I am.” This, I know, is what community feels like. The circle, linking us all together, and our voices rising and falling together. Singing has always felt like community to me. When we sing together, we can hear that everyone has their own particular voice, their own place in the song, and we can feel that that is right and good. When I sang in that circle, I could hear some people singing the melody loud and proud, others adding sweet harmony, others just slightly off-key, others singing quietly but steadily, and I would be willing to bet that some people weren’t singing at all, but swaying and listening to the music around them with a smile. All of it—and I mean all of it—was right and good. There is no one right way to sing, just as there is no one right way to be a member of a community.

And yes, I was uncomfortable, even as I sang. My feet still hurt, my face was slowly developing a sunburn, and the song was just a little too low to sing easily. And still I felt this was right.

Sometimes, discomfort is purely negative and must be assuaged. But at other times, discomfort is productive. Sometimes, it pushes us to action. When I was singing in that circle, I didn’t want to leave and put on sunblock; I wanted to stay, singing, and add my own harmony. In the mass incarceration workshop, although part of me wanted to leave, I knew I couldn’t really hide from this; I wanted to do something about it. In the mental health workshop, I didn’t want to push away the presenters and the feelings brought on by their stories; I wanted to pull them closer and learn more. And standing in the UCC tent with my aching feet, I actually didn’t want to sit down; I wanted to run down the street, skipping and dancing, sharing my energy with the world and giving my feet something else to do. My hope for all of us, when we are far away from Wild Goose in this uncomfortable world, is that as often as we can, we choose not just to stand, but to run forward, through the discomfort, into our shared future.

Bekah Anderson is a young writer studying religion and creative writing at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She is currently interning with the Congregational Assessment, Support, and Advancement department of the national office of the United Church of Christ. She hopes that the new, queerer church will have shorter job titles.

Wild Goose 2016 Reader from Chalice Press

By | Guest Post

Is your spirit still on the Wild Goose mountaintop?
Are you still thinking about the new friends you made, the new ways you think about your faith and your purpose in life?

Are you ready to go back next year?

Freemium-booklet-3D-WildGoose2016ReaderHere’s a way to take some of your Wild Goose experience home … Chalice Press and CBP Books are offering a FREE compilation of chapters (more than 100 pages of great content!) from eight amazing authors who led sessions at Wild Goose Festival 2016:

  • Rachelle Mee-ChapmanRelig-ish: Soulful Living in a Spiritual-But-Not-Religious World
  • Chris CrassTowards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter
  • Sarah Griffith Lund Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church
  • Nicole Massie MartinMade to Lead: Empowering Women for Ministry
  • Teresa Pasquale MatheusSacred Wounds: A Path to Healing from Spiritual Trauma
  • Julie RichardsonAvailable Hope: Parenting, Faith, and a Terrifying World
  • Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-RiegerUnified We are a Force: How Faith and Labor Can Overcome America’s Inequalities

Go to and find out how to receive your FREE copy of the Wild Goose 2016 Reader.

Jordan: Home to the Wilderness of the Goose

By | Guest Post

Guest post by Jordan Tourism Board

The voice crying in the wilderness.
The desert, the wind, the reeds, the river, the springs.
Flocks from all over the region come for baptism.
The One comes.
John baptizes.
The heavens open.
The Wild Goose descends upon the beloved Son.
The Father speaks.
The mission begins.


According to the Bible (John 1:28), the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Wild Goose – was first revealed to mankind at Bethany-beyond-the Jordan, where John baptized his cousin Jesus.
What did the crowds do? Could this have been the original Wild Goose Festival?

Jordan, the eastern part of the Holy Land, welcomes pilgrims from around the world to Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, a UNESCO world heritage site. This special place of baptism – the Wilderness of the Goose – is one of many Old and New Testament locations in Jordan awaiting pilgrims who make the journey.

We look forward to telling more of our Jordan story at #WildGoose16. Our friend Benjamin (Ben) L. Corey, blogger and author of “Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus,” will be with us to share about his own experiences in Jordan. Please look for us in the Spirituality Tent and at our pop-up oasis video tent, where we can dig a bit deeper and discover more about each other

Here’s Ben swapping stories about Jordan with a few other Christian bloggers:





To learn more, please visit  or our My Jordan Journey Facebook Page

Download a copy of our Biblical Jordan educational booklet HERE


An open table for authentic seekers

By | Guest Post

Guest post by Paul Swanson, CAC

I don’t make songs for free, I make them for freedom.
Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom.
—Chance the Rapper

God is inside you, all around you, and up above.
—Sturgill Simpson

Chance the Rapper and Sturgill Simpson are my musical go-tos during this season of life. Though stylistically different, they are both innovative storytellers who are laughing off the prescribed genres and archaic routes of professional artistry. To me, Wild Goose has taken a similar approach to spirituality—unafraid of the paradoxes that inherently come with stepping out of ascribed spiritual uniforms, belief structure, and religious norms. Rather than taking the easy path of embracing a cynical and iconoclastic spirit, Wild Goose holds the graced space of an open table for authentic seekers.

What brings me back to Wild Goose? The Spirit of participants and presenters is real; I trust their underlying desire to lovingly impact the world through compassionate presence and engagement.

It’s been a year or two since I set up my tent at Wild Goose, but I am looking forward to being back this go around as a part of the team from the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC). We are proud to be a sponsor of the pre-festival Mystic Action Camp. Doubly proud to see three of our Living School graduates (Teresa Pasquale, Brie Stoner, and Holly Roach) as integral contributors to this offering.

Wild Goose and Mystic Action Camp embody the same spirit as the CAC. Our founder and wisdom teacher, Father Richard Rohr, says:

The most important word in our Center’s name is not Action nor is it Contemplation, but the word and. We need both action and contemplation to have a whole spiritual journey. It doesn’t matter which comes first; action may lead you to contemplation and contemplation may lead you to action. But finally, they need and feed each other.

If being the and in action and contemplation sounds like your type of conjunction, we hope you’ll join us at Wild Goose to further deepen your contemplative engagement with our beloved world.

See you soon. . . .

Paul Swanson
Director of Curriculum and tallest person at the CAC

So what’s an evangelical for social action, anyway?

By | Guest Post

Guest post by Evangelicals for Social Action

At the Sider Center we make a point of discussing topics your grandmother probably told you not to discuss, like sexuality, money, politics, and racism. We think we can talk about these potentially divisive things with love and respect, even if we disagree, because we value theological diversity as much as we do racial diversity. We don’t pretend to know the all the truth, but we know what love looks like. It looks like Jesus—bold and kind, creative and patient. And it’s to make the radical love of Jesus visible in this world that the Sider Center exists.

ESAbannerThe Sider Center of Eastern University promotes peaceful coexistence and social justice through scholarship, community-transformation programs, and loving dialogue across deep differences. Primary avenues for this work include the following:

Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA)
Founded in 1973 by scholar-popularizer-activist Ronald J. Sider, ESA is the premier project of the Sider Center. ESA promotes peace with justice by educating and energizing the church through online publications (our blog, the weekly ePistle, study guides), hands-on training (such as our Racial Justice Institute), and speaking engagements.

Associate Fellows for Racial Justice
Because racial justice is so important to the Sider Center and to ESA, in 2016 we brought on Micky ScottBey Jones and Darren Calhoun as our Associate Fellows for Racial Justice. Micky and Darren focus ESA’s work on racial justice and reconciliation while leading our campaigns for racial justice and equality through social media, writing, and public actions.

Sider Scholars
Our work is supported by Sider Scholars who work 10 hours per week at the Sider Center, receiving a scholarship for 50 percent of their tuition towards Palmer graduate programs, like the Master of Theological Studies in Christian Faith and Public Policy.

Oriented to Love
Oriented to Love helps Christ-followers gather in loving, respectful dialogue around the topic of sexual and gender diversity in the church. Retreating to a place of beauty and rest for two days, together we discover a unity that is deeper than agreement.

CreatureKind exists to engage churches in new ways of thinking about animals and Christian faith, with a special focus on farmed animal welfare. CreatureKind also helps churches play a leading role in animal theology and protection.

Family Advocates
The Sider Center partners with the Family Strengthening Network to provide Family Advocates in local churches and other organizations who can work with families on complex issues like employment, housing, childcare, financial management and counseling.

Latino/a Initiatives
In collaboration with Palmer Seminary, the Sider Center helped launch an online Spanish language master’s degree for educators and pastors in México City, México. This is one of the few graduate theological programs in Spanish that emphasizes women in leadership and holistic approaches to community transformation.

On July 7, Evangelicals for Social Action will host a one-day Racial Justice Institute at the Wild Goose Festival to help participants reflect on, heal from, and discover creative ways to confront racism together. Please join us for this important and timely conversation. Even if you can’t make it, please be sure to stop by and introduce yourself! Throughout the festival, Sider Center staff will also be hosting workshops and conversations on animal welfare and how to communicate safely and lovingly around divisive issues in our faith communities.

“It’s really a magical place”

By | Guest Post

Guest post by Sojourners’ Rob and Hannah Wilson-Black

What do you get when you combine the 1960s rock festival Woodstock’s vibe, the Taize community’s singing, the Chautauqua Institution’s events, and the Aspen Ideas Festival’s speakers? Hey, get real — those four things cannot be combined, in part because of geography, brand confusion, and a time-continuum issue.


But imagine they could be and you could attend with your family and friends and survive to tell the tale because you could actually remember them on your ride home? That’s the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, N.C., July 7-10 — and you are officially invited to join us and a couple thousand of your best friends in this surprisingly intimate gathering of faith, art, hymns (and beer even!), rich reflections on life and faith, and good ole down-home fellowship across the tents and river wading. The common metaphor for the Holy Spirit in the British Isles is the wild goose, so that provides a clue as to what you’ll find at the Wild Goose Festival.

Here’s what my 15-year-old daughter Hannah texted me last night about our time at the WG Festival: “The first image that the Wild Goose Festival brings to mind is a small village of bike-riding, creative hippie-hermits who cultivate a culture of sharing. It’s really a magical place. Though everyone at Wild Goose is very different, one thing that ties us all together is a certain knack for making something out of nothing. We make an acre or two of land into festival grounds, hundreds of attendees into a family, trash into art, even, and a collective spirit into music. And if that’s not magic I don’t know what is.”

While I’ve never considered myself a hippie, other than intellectually perhaps (I think by hermit she means her fellow introverts are welcome), Hannah has it right. All three of our children, from when they were very young to now well into high school, have enjoyed their time at the Wild Goose, and as parents we don’t spend much time tracking their whereabouts throughout the day (I hope I’m allowed to admit that — the story of young Jesus being lost on the way out of Jerusalem should give me pause).

What seals the deal for me this year is the amazing Emily Saliers and Amy Ray as the Indigo Girls will be there, as will worship leader extraordinaire Tripp Hudgins and Anna Golladay’s artistic genius. Especially since people claim old friends and new family will be found at Wild Goose, it was a wonderful surprise to discover my college buddy Tripp, elementary school friend Anna, and new songwriting teacher Emily are all connected to Wild Goose! I can’t promise you’ll find your childhood friends and new mentors here, but it would not shock me in the slightest as that is my recent Wild Goose discovery.

Whether you’re enjoying NOT having to be at the kids’ tent with your own wonderful kids, wading in the river and hiking through forests with new colleagues, or learning more about implicit bias, slow church, and social movements’ ties to scripture, you can be sure that at the Wild Goose, you’ll find all this and more. So while you can find new ideas without Aspen, cool institutions without Chautauqua, tent communities without Woodstock, and music without Taize, why not come to Wild Goose and experience a bit of it all? I’ll see you down by the river on my bike singing “Closer to Fine” this July.

Robert Wilson-Black, PhD is CEO of Sojourners ( and a board member of The Wild Goose Festival. Hannah Wilson-Black is a ninth-grader at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC and is the creator of


Matt Morris invites us to start “troubling the Gospel.”

By | Guest Post

Not having all the answers but being willing to ask the hard questions – this has been an abiding principle of Wild Goose from its earliest days. And providing the time and space to ask those questions through art, music, words, silence and movement – we believe that’s some of the most important work we do at this festival.

Troub-Gospel_900This year, we’re taking that belief even further with the addition of a new tent called Troubling the Gospel, dedicated to questioning our assumptions, interrogating easy answers, freeing the good news from the boxes it’s been put in, and striving to uncover new meaning in our sacred stories, in light of our own personal stories.

Co-curated by Sean Michael Morris, a critical pedagogue, teacher, and contemplative, and Matthew Morris, musician, blogger, and spiritual explorer, Sean and Matt will also be the primary facilitators for the tent. We asked Matt to tell us more of what we can expect from Troubling the Gospel.

Let’s start with the tent’s name. Why “Troubling the Gospel”? What’s that about?

The Gospel is an orientation, a lens through which things are seen, through which the world is turned upside down.The idea of the Troubling the Gospel tent is not as much to change the way we read the Gospel as it is to recognize the deep ways that the Gospel troubles us. When we do troubling the Gospel work, part of what we’re asking is “how is that connected to the kingdom of God”? What words do we use to describe that kingdom (or kin-dom), what images, what sounds, what memories, what hopes? What do we want the Gospel to say to us, and what is it saying to us? How do we hear the Gospel through others’ words, through our relationships and interactions and collaborations in community? Is the Gospel a work of social justice, and if it is, how do we work to translate that into our work, our social lives, our sense of justice?


So what we will actually find when we walk in the door?

A place of dialogue, art, and collaboration. With a multitude of art supplies to use— crayons, paper, finger paint, Play-doh — musical instruments, writing tools, and more.

Will there be workshops going on in the tent?

This will be both a space of individual reflection, and also of guided participation — with active workshops led by community teachers and artists. Each day, the tent will host  focused sessions working with a specific aspect or idea from the Gospel through one or another artistic medium, such as:

  • Troubling the Gospel with song
  • Troubling the Gospel through art
  • Troubling the Gospel with reflective writing
  • Troubling the Gospel through movement
  • Troubling the Gospel with story
  • Troubling the Gospel through confession
  • Troubling the Gospel through collaboration
  • Troubling the Gospel through dialogue
  • Troubling the Gospel through community building

There won’t be a podium, stage, or presentation space.  We want the participants to be the center of the discussion and work.

Each day will also include hours when visitors to the tent will be

encouraged to engage with a more personal, individual experience of

troubling the Gospel.

So what about the individual work? Will someone be directing that?

Facilitation will always be available during the tent’s open hours, but these individual reflection times will be primarily self-guided. Art, writing, and musical supplies will be on the tables. Each table, too, will include a prompt — a line from the Gospel, a thought or question for reflection, etc. — for visitors to engage with, if they’d like.

So if you had to sum it up in a sentence: Why visit the Troubling the Gospel tent?

So you can engage in and discover deeply personal relationships with the Gospel, its messages, its contexts, the text itself, its resonance, and all its repercussions.