All Posts By

Rick Meredith

Year-Round Conversations

By Featured-1, Goose News, RolloutsNo Comments

Scroll down to make a comment

For many of us, the thing we love most about Wild Goose Festival is the conversations in which we find ourselves spontaneously and unexpectedly engaged. It seems as though they’re always derailing us from our carefully planned agendas.

Can we make this a year-round experience? Imagine you’re walking down Main Street or through the campground. You encounter a lively conversation around a couple of picnic tables. In true Goose style, someone calls out, “hey, come join us!” People scoot over on their bench to make a little space for you. You’ve never met these folks before but there’s an immediate trust and openness and acceptance. The conversation flows. When you leave, you feel a little lighter. A bit transformed. Even energized!

Details - Wild Goose Festival Community Page

Let us know what you think. Please leave your comments and suggestions below.

2020 Postponement

By Goose NewsNo Comments

Festival Postponement – What We Know and What We Don’t Know

We’re not ready to say “It’s Over.” But we know we can’t have a festival in July. 

So for now, we’re postponing. We’ve narrowed it down to two possible dates: September 10-13, 2020, or July 2021.

What are the chances of an actual September festival? We don’t know. We know we’re looking at a “new normal” for a long time. We don’t know what that will look like in September.

Why don’t we just cancel? Because we don’t see any downside to leaving the September possibility open while “the new normal” evolves. So much of our planning for this year is already complete, it allows us to work with a shorter go/no go lead time.

We do know this, above all else: We will not have a September festival unless we can meet all the criteria of “safe.”

So, please save the date but write it in pencil, and keep your eraser nearby.

We hope you’ll hang in here with us while we sit this out. We’ll make a final decision on the September dates early this summer. At that time, we’ll offer several options for those who have already purchased tickets.

For now, we’re working to develop the Wild Goose Community, an online experience of conversation, music, 24/7 drop-in spaces, scheduled sessions, and whatever you can think of – kind of a Do-It-Yourself Goose. We want this to be heavily community-driven – we’re building the highway but you have to drive on it! CHECK IT OUT HERE

Please keep yourselves safe. We still have a long way to go. Hang in there.



Festival Postponed to 2021

By Goose News, RolloutsNo Comments

Tuesday,  May 5, 2021

There’s no easy way to say this, so here it is.
With great sadness, we must announce that Wild Goose Festival is postponed until summer of 2021.

This morning we received word that the town of Hot Springs has passed an ordinance prohibiting festivals through the end of the year.

If you’ve already purchased a ticket, we realize you may need that money now more than ever. We’re committed to providing refunds to those who need them, but we’re also committed to keeping Wild Goose alive and soaring.

Our small staff is working on exciting ways to keep us all connected throughout the year and to continue planning for 2021 – and to do that, we could use your help. If you have the means, we sincerely hope that you’ll consider donating all or a portion of your ticket value, and/or making a tax-deductible donation.

Even if you haven’t purchased a ticket, please consider a donation to help us remain operational.

All ticket holders will receive an email soon with details concerning three options – donation, rollover to 2021, or refund.

If you’ve been accepted as a co-creator, vendor, or partner, we’re rolling you over to 2021 unless you’d rather opt out. For volunteers, we’ll be starting over. You’ll receive more details soon.

Together, we’ll get through this – and we’re already looking forward to seeing you in the summer of 2021.

Wild Goose Festival 2021 – July 15-18, 2021

By Featured-1, Goose News, RolloutsNo Comments

July 15-18, 2021 – Save the date and mark your calendar! And note, that’s one week later than usual.

Ticket sales are open now. Earlybird pricing applies to the first 100 tickets sold.

What if you’ve already purchased a ticket for 2020? You have three choices.

  1. Support Wild Goose Festival by converting your ticket to a donation  – and, this will entitle you to a special $99 ticket for 2021!
  2. Roll your ticket over to the 2021 festival.
  3. Get a refund for your ticket purchase.

Click here to let us know your preference.

We’re planning lots of community activities to help us all stay in touch. We’ll be sending regular emails about what’s happening in the Wild Goose Festival Community. You can always check the schedule HERE for the latest additions – and visit the Community web page for more details.

See you in person next year! But see you virtually real soon!

The Racial Reality of America

By Featured-1, Goose NewsOne Comment


On June 2, 2020, Wild Goose Festival Community hosted an online conversation between Brian McLaren and Jacqui Lewis on The Racial Reality of America.

View the event below and scroll down to the anti-racism resources below the video.
If you have more anti-racism resources to add, please add them in the comments section.


Anti-Racism Resources A list of books, podcasts, articles, videos, films, TV, and organizations

More Anti-Racism Resources  New material organized in a way to meet people where they are at in their anti-racist journey

Dianne Reeves – Endangered Species Opening music

Tituss Burgess & Friends | Middle Church – We Shall Overcome Closing Music

Video Chat Transcript Chat transcript from the live event

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

TIPPING POINT – Are We There Yet?

By Featured-1, Goose NewsNo Comments

On June 23, 2020, Wild Goose Festival Community hosted an online conversation with Valarie Kaur and Otis Moss III  on TIPPING POINT: Are We There yet?

View the event below and scroll down to additional resources below the video.
If you have more anti-racism resources to add, please add them in the comments section.


Black  Lives Matter Opening music

See No Stranger Closing Music

Video Chat Transcript Chat transcript from the live event

Anti-Racism Resources A list of books, podcasts, articles, videos, films, TV, and organizations

More Anti-Racism Resources  New material organized in a way to meet people where they are at in their anti-racist journey

Wild Goose Festival Community gatherings are free to everyone. If you’d like to support this community by making a donation, you can do that here: DONATE

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.

Jatrice Martel Gaiter, Shane Claiborne, Mona Haydar, Sarah Heath, Jarrod McKenna

By 2018 FestivalNo Comments

The line up just keeps getting better and better!

We’re thrilled to announce that Australian human rights activist Jarrod McKenna is coming to #WildGoose2018 and will be one of our Justice Camp presenters! With extensive experience in practicing non-violence as a means of social change, Jarrod has been all around the world as a speaker, a peacemaker in the Middle East, and as a trainer for activists and advocates alike. We are overjoyed to have him join the Wild Goose community.

But that’s not all! We’re also welcoming two amazing indviduals to the Goose for the first time: Jatrice Martel Gaiter and Mona Haydar. And we’re delighted to welcome author, speaker, podcaster, and pastor, Rev. Sarah Heath back at the Goose this year too.

Learn more about all these incredible folks below!
See you all soon!

(PS If you haven’t already purchased your tickets, hurry! Ticket prices go up on June 21st!)

Jarrod Mckenna
A Prominent Christian leader and peace award winning nonviolent activist, Jarrod McKenna is a sought after activist trainer in Australia, Eastern Europe, The United States, and the Middle East. In his role as an nonviolent activist trainer he has worked with groups such as Rising Tide, Greenpeace, World Vision International and at the forefront of the Love Makes A Way movement. As well as being a regular commentator in the media, Jarrod speaks, trains, teaches and preaches over 100 times a year in diverse settings ranging from academic institutions such as Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, The University of Western Australia, Australian Islamic Colleges, to churches like C3 Oxford Falls and CityLife, and organisations like The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Jarrod also facilitates “Alternatives to Violence Project” workshops in maximum security prisons each year.

Mona Haydar
Mona Haydar is a Syrian American rapper, poet, activist, practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover, and a tireless God-enthusiast.
Her single, “Hijabi”, was a groundbreaking debut with millions of views. Billboard critics named it one of 2017’s top protest songs and one of the 25 top feminist anthems of all time. Her work as an artist and activist has been featured on BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, AJ+, NPR, Mic, Psychology Today, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe, New York Times, and many others. Her first EP is set to drop in 2018.
Mona practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation, and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She is currently working towards her Masters in Theology and lives in Harlem, New York City, with her husband and their two sons.

Jatrice Martel Gaiter
Jatrice Martel Gaiter is the executive vice president, external affairs for Volunteers of America. Ms. Gaiter builds national awareness and support for its mission to provide programs and services which enable people to reach their full potential. She provides managerial and strategic oversight of public policy, marketing, development, and communications departments. She is the immediate past board chair of the National Human Services Assembly.
Ms. Gaiter earned a BA in government from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate from the Syracuse University College of Law.

Sarah Heath
Originally from Canada but spent sometime in Southern Mississippi and North Carolia, Sarah currently serves First United Methodist Church in Costa Mesa, California, where she is the lead pastor for a church re-start and revitalization. Sarah has a passion for music, traveling, acting, creating art, playing and watching sports. She is the author of Whats your story? Seeing Your Life Through God’s Eyes and host of Sonderlust: the Podcast. The biggest blessings in her life are her random assortment of talented friends and her amazing mutt of a dog, Tenor.

Shane Claiborne
Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane).
Shane writes and travels extensively to speak about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.


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.

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.

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.

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 and Tony and his wife, Peggy, live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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.

Message From the Wild Goose Board

By Uncategorized

Dear Members of the Wild Goose Flock –

We wanted to give you all an update about our location for the Wild Goose Festival. First, thanks to all who have offered suggestions and feedback on this important issue. At our last board meeting, we devoted a lot of time to discussing the strengths and weaknesses of our current location in Hot Springs, NC. We’ve decided to stay in Hot Springs for now, and here’s the background to our decision.

Just about everyone agrees that Hot Springs is a wonderful spot in many ways. The natural enclosed space in the mountains hugging the French Broad River, the little town with shops and restaurants, the balance of remoteness and accessibility, the availability of a variety of housing options within a reasonable driving distance – all these features make the location truly special.

However, we face some real challenges in rural North Carolina. For example, the presence of Confederate flags is very disturbing for many of us, making us wonder if these flags are intended as a “not welcome” sign. And spotty cell coverage adds to a sense of vulnerability for those of us who depend on our phones many times each hour. These drawbacks cause us real concern because our starting point is that the Wild Goose is committed to safe, hospitable, and welcoming spaces for all people in all of our gatherings, including and especially at our Hot Springs Festival.

A few years ago, when Rev. Barber proposed a boycott of North Carolina because of the infamous “bathroom bill,” we worked with him in considering several options, including relocating and even going on hiatus for a year. In the end, the law was changed. But the incident caused us to keep our eyes open for other possible locations. Again this year, we expanded our search area to include an arc that ranged from Pennsylvania to Atlanta to Tennessee. We didn’t find a suitable alternate location without equal or greater problems of its own.

Two other factors have been important in our considerations. First, we greatly value our amazing team of volunteers in the area, along with the good relationships we have built with housing providers, vendors, city leaders, and the larger Wild Goose community in the region.

Second, we don’t feel right about letting Confederate flag-wavers succeed in intimidating us. We believe that people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and the spiritually non-traditional have as much a right to be there as anyone else. So we’ve decided to stay in Hot Springs in 2018 and perhaps beyond as a voice and presence for change.

But please know that we’re actively working to address safety concerns. Here are some of our hopes and plans:

Travel and Arrival Support
Almost everyone travels to the Wild Goose through either Asheville, NC or Newport, TN. We’re setting aside funds to create a “hospitality” resource in both of these locations. We will provide detailed maps, 24/7 Wild Goose staff phone numbers, advice on gas stops and supplies, AND loaner burner phones with local coverage for all who request them.

Phone and WIFI Access
We’re trying to get a signal boost for cell coverage and WIFI at the festival site. The mountains are both a source of great beauty and a communication obstacle. Progress on this is slow and the costs are high. As a supplement, we’ll plan to increase awareness of the “land line” that is available at the check-in gate and we’ll have temporary loaner phones with some improved service available.

Housing and Local Transportation
We’re working to increase the number of both on-site and close-in housing options. We’re also working to improve our ability to transport persons within the town of Hot Springs. We’ve petitioned the city council to allow us to drive golf carts on city streets and if we’re successful, we’ll implement “town shuttles.” Absent success with this request, we hope to use other vehicles for local transport for those with mobility challenges and for those who will feel safer in groups.

Western North Carolina and Hot Springs
Like most areas, western North Carolina, is politically, culturally, and economically diverse. However, Asheville is among the most progressive cities in the United States. Hot Springs itself has a significant progressive community, also. Pride in being the host of the Wild Goose Festival runs deep for many of the community leaders and goes well beyond the economic advantages. That gives us hope that we can continue making progress for the Wild Goose flock, and maybe even improve conditions in the area all year ‘round.

Going Forward
Unfortunately, no place is absolutely safe. And, even with the progress we’re making and will continue to make as we dialogue and co-create together, we acknowledge that Hot Springs is not ideal for everyone. That’s one reason why we’re considering enlarging the Wild Goose footprint in years to come. For example, we’re exploring the possibility of a second festival somewhere in a triangle between Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. In years to come, there could be several Wild Goose festivals occurring around the country, each with its own flavor and strengths – and, no doubt, each with its own unique challenges.

Continuing Improvement
When Wild Goose began in 2011, we were the first major Christian festival in the United States where LGBTQ and straight people could co-create as equals. That was a big step, but it was only a step. We promise to continue the struggle – to help people co-create across racial, regional, cultural, political, gender, and religious lines. This isn’t easy, but it’s important, and we’re not giving up or backing down.

Thanks again for being part of the Wild Goose community! Thanks for caring about making Wild Goose a hospitable place for all who wish to join the flock! We look forward to seeing you in July – and we hope you’ll bring along a gaggle of friends.

Joyfully –
The Wild Goose Board