-----SOULFEST-----
Music. Love. Action.

New England's Premier
Christian Music &
Social Justice Festival

August 7 - 9, 2014

Gunstock Mtn. Resort, Gilford, NH
thesoulfest.com

A TRUE LOVE ESSAY by MATTHEW DICKERSON

SoulFest is more than music, hence the tagline is MUSIC·LOVE·ACTION. Our hope is that all who attend yield to God’s unconditional love and make a fresh commitment to live from the inside out as a soul-connected risk taking believer in True Love, the revolution Jesus started. To aid in this process, we developed the Soul University - where you can join vital conversations about Faith, Social Injustice, Art, Navigating the Human Condition, and more. Throughout the festival, you will find over 40 different conversations to join. The conversations are hosted by gifted and inspired authors, artists, leaders and teachers.

We also asks these speakers and artists to write a True Love Essay for the festival program (also included on our website and in this blog).  The essays are built around the theme we’ve selected for this summer’s festival, which is: TRUE LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL

We’ll kick off this year’s series of essays with Dr. Matthew Dickerson, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont since 1989, after receiving his PhD from Cornell University.  He also plays the role of husband, father, land steward, writer, songwriter and speaker (Outdoor Writer for the Addison Independent. Writer and Speaker on a variety of topics, especially the works of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. Songwriter for Zephyr.) 

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So let’s hear what he has to say in regards to the 2014 festival theme:

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TRUMPS EMOTIONS

God’s love for us is immeasurable and unconditional. We could never earn it, but we don’t need to. It is given freely and lavishly. In fact, though we often speak of “love” as a thing to be given—like a box of chocolates or a cup of coffee—even that language is deceptive; love is less an object to be passed around than it is an action; love is the very character and nature of God. God does not dispense little portions of love as rewards for good behavior because of who we are (or are not); God loves us lavishly and freely because of who He is: God is love.

And having tasted of this unconditional love, so great and freeing and powerful, I want to help others to experience it also.  And the best way for me to make that love known is to live it out: to practice loving others unconditionally the way God through Christ has loved me.  When we love others unconditionally, we help the world know the unconditional love of God.

But what does it mean to love unconditionally? I’d like to share one part of that answer. When I think of loving somebody unconditionally, my first thought is usually about the ways to love that other person despite their flaws and shortcomings; I am not making the other person fulfill any conditions before I love them. And that is good. Yet I also need to make sure my practice and expression of love is not dependent on my own emotional state. Love is not a way we feel; it is a way we act. And as a way we act, and choose to act, it does not need depend in the slightest on how we feel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can love even when we, ourselves, feeling lousy, unloving, grumpy, or angry.  And when we do practice that love, we are in some way reflecting and pointing toward God’s unconditional love.

One of the greatest lie of our time is the lie that love—and we could add forgiveness and faith—is a feeling. It is a conflating of love with romance or emotion. Love is neither of these things. Love is a choice. A willingness to lay down your own life for somebody else. That doesn’t necessarily feel good. But it is good. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and see how love is described as a way we act and treat others (and not as a way we feel).  Even in marriage or parenting, the greatest acts of love are the choices to serve a spouse or a child when you don’t feel like it. Romance comes and goes in waves. Don’t listen to the lie that says that a loss of romantic feelings means a loss of love. Even in periods when romance is gone, love can remain.  And this is true of all our relationships. When we dwell in God’s unconditional love, we needn’t let our own practice of love be a slave to our feelings. Let our love of others be unconditional—unconditional on their state, and unconditional on our own.

Donald Miller, New York Times Best Selling Author & Speaker, Joins the SoulFest Soul University!

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SoulFest is not just New England’s Premier Christian Music Festival; SoulFest is where you join vital conversations about Faith, Social Injustice, Art, Navigating the Human Condition, and more.  Throughout the festival, you will find over 40 different conversations to join.  The conversations are hosted by gifted and inspired authors and teachers.  Included in Soul University 2014 at SoulFest, Donald Miller will be the keynote speaker. 

A sought-after speaker, Donald has delivered lectures to a wide range of audiences, including the Women of Faith Conference, the Veritas Forum at Harvard University, and the Veritas Forum at Cal Poly.  His use of disarming humor, compelling stories and authentic musings on faith help people immediately feel at home while he’s on stage.  He is a New York Times best selling author; screen play / co-director for Blue Like Jazz, a film based on his memoir by the same title; and the Founder of StoryBrand, a process that helps companies speak clearly to their customers.   Donald’s two-day stay at SoulFest offers a unique experience for him to expound on topics tied to the 2014 festival theme: TRUE LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL and connect with attendees.

 Join us at Gunstock Mountain Resort for SoulFest 2014 – 3 days of music and conversations with over 100 artists and speakers, including: Donald Miller, TobyMac, Switchfoot, Third Day, Crowder, Mandisa, Kari Jobe, Scott Stapp, Natalie Grant, Britt Nicole, Thousand Foot Krutch, For King & Country, Oh Sleeper, Trip Lee, Propaganda, Tedashii, KB, Derek Minor, Steve Taylor, Paul Colman, Rev. Dn. Gay Cox, Dale Keuhne Ph.D, Rob Strong, Matthew Dickerson Ph.D and many many more!

SOULFEST 2014

GUNSTOCK MOUNTAIN RESORT

GILFORD, NH

AUGUST 7-9, 2014

9AM-11PM

Tickets: www.thesoulstore.com

Info: www.thesoulfest.com

Donald Miller’s Info: www.storylineblog.com

Black Friday Sale

We are happy to continue our tradition of offering amazing deals on Soulfest tickets during our Black Friday Special. This year is no exception! In fact we will not be offering tickets at a lower price than this for the festival. This is your best opportunity to buy lots of tickets! Here is the scoop…

-Sale runs from Nov 28th - Dec 2nd at www.thesoulstore.com or by calling (978)346-4577

-Purchase 2 or more tickets and get them for $80 each

-Group pricing of $75 per ticket starts at 10 tickets

(A 7.5% processing fee applies to each order)

Our confirmed artists include:

For more info about The SoulFest 2014 visit www.thesoulfest.com

Casting Crowns Interview

We recently got a chance to talk with Brian Scoggin the drummer for Casting Crowns. They will be coming to Lowell, MA on September 13th and Bangor, ME on September 14th.

9/13/13 Lowell, MA

Tickets

Doors: 6:30pm

Starts: 7:30pm

Location: Lowell Memorial Auditorium

With: The Andy Needham Band

9/14/13 Bangor, ME

Tickets

Doors: 5:00pm

Starts: 6:00pm

Location: Waterfront Pavillion 

With: Kutless, The Wrecking, and more!


[Interview]


Q: Do you have a favorite memory of being in New England with Casting Crowns?

A: I do. It seems like the last time we were up there we were in Lowell. And I remember those people singing so loud that night. Its really one of my favorite memories because you can have concerts in these big arenas, which is really cool too, but sometimes when you get in these smaller places and the people pack in there and they sing so loud it makes it more special than you would think. And that was Lowell. And I’m just hoping its the exact same when we come back!

Q: What makes a show really special for you?

A: For me, its always nice when people show up. Thats good when you feel like people want to be there and they show it by showing up to the concert. But when you’re on the stage and your looking into a crowd of people who are just kinda sitting there and they are expecting something from you, you know you always feel a bit of that pressure. But when people are there and they are ready to give it right back and they are already engaged and ready to go, it really drives the band. What happens in the seats really drives the band. Its good when there is an energy in the crowd its a nice give and take and it feels like we are going to the throne together versus just us performing. 

Q: What can we expect to see or hear at the shows in Lowell and Bangor?

A: We are going to play all the songs that people know and love. Hopefully, I’ll say it like that. But we have a new record that we just finished recording. It will be released January 28th, 2014, so we are probably going to be introducing  a couple new songs those nights. So people should be ready to hear two brand new songs. Ones a real upbeat song. The other one is a song that speaks right to the family, right to marriage. Its a very quiet and still song but a very powerful song. Probably one of my favorite songs on the new album. And by the way the new album is called Thrive.

Q: What do you think makes Casting Crowns unique. What draws people to the band?

A: To put a finger on it I couldn’t tell you cause I think God is responsible for whats happened. But as far as what makes it unique, maybe as far as what some differences are - one, I think that its that the music is second and the message is first. And thats probably not only with Crowns I’m sure it’s with many bands. But I know first hand for sure, that the message of whats trying to be said, you know whatever God is saying to Mark, through his full time youth work ministry, as he deals with families as he deals with church, as he deals with all kinds of things - these are just real life stories coming out through these songs. So we are not trying to make music for music sake and then put a cool message to it. Its very much the message. A song doesn’t happen without a reason. And so the artistry side of music and that kind of thing comes in around that. And that might be a backwards form for what some people do for writing. It just happens that way. And thats really the purpose and why the band keeps touring and making records. As long theres still ministry to do, theres still things to write about, there’s still people to help so thats where we’re at.

Q: What does life look life when you are not on the road touring?

A: I’d say its a pretty normal human existence. We all have families. Every one of us has multiple kids. We’re all trying to be good moms and dads. We’re all super involved in trying to pour into teenagers at our church. We come home, we have a church family, and no-ones really enamored with Casting Crowns fame cause they know us and they know better, ya know. We just go home and we try and enjoy time and pour into our kids and our church, and be good to our spouses. Its pretty every day normal. I wouldn’t say there is any glitz and glamour. Its just what you would expect from a normal person I think.

Q: Is there anything else you can speak into regarding the future or vision of Casting Crowns?

A: Crowns wants to continue to be a voice, number one. I think we are a voice to the church, but we want to continue to encourage the body of Christ with the truth of Gods word. We hope to be able to not only speak directly to the church, but for that message to overflow into the world so obviously we want people who are not in the church or possibly even unsaved to hear the gospel in our songs and get saved. But we hope to even broaden the range of people who hear our music. Cause Christian music is a very small percentage of music in the world. And so we would  go for opportunities for some of these songs to crossover possibly, and to be able to have opportunities to be played on mainstream radio stations, or for us to have opportunities to appear on mainstream television, talk shows. And not for fame or for any other reason but to let these songs speak truth to the world who really needs to hear them.

Q: Would that be something thats more unique to something you might do in the future, cause in the past you really haven’t done too much crossover work.

A: Yeah with our songs, there’s no question if these songs are about God or not. Its not like your gonna wonder if they are about a girlfriend OR God. You know they’re pretty direct so there hasn’t been a whole lot of people outside of the church that have been interested in dealing with these songs on their platforms. But we really just hope that will happen. We hope that somehow, someway if God sees fit that for no other reason than to just let people hear the truth. And by the way we are really thankful for all the Christian artists who get to do that already. That is awesome. And if it happens to Crowns too that would just be extra cool. 

Q: Do you have a favorite song or a song you are really looking forward to playing in Lowell and Bangor?

A: I like all the songs and I enjoy playing all the songs. But I’ve played most of those songs a whole lot of times. Still look forward to them. But there is one song, its one of the brand new songs I was telling you about, that I don’t even play on. So its fun when the drummer says my favorite song is one I don’t even play on. I look forward to the people hearing the song called House of Their Dreams. Im looking forward to the people hearing House of Their Dreams while we are in Bangor and in Lowell.



Click HERE for tickets!

Transformation at the Cross

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photos by Joe St. Louis


Short stories from the SoulFest Cross Ministry

As far as stories from the cross go, let me share one that is personal:

As nighttime was falling fast around us, I stood in the crowd with my four-year-old daughter in my arms. On stage was Gungor and they were catapulting us into worship. As they played a powerful instrumental, the sky all around us grew finally dark - leaving the only two lights on the mountain, the stage and the cross. As if on cue, a breeze began to blow. 

"God’s Holy spirit is loving on us right now, isn’t He", I said to Prudence. Her response was a tight squeeze around my neck. I couldn’t help but believe that at that very moment, Love was transforming her little heart and making it a heart of worship.  

The banging noise of the hammers driving the nails into the cross started early, as a constant flow of people came, and one by one laid their burdens down. 

One of our younger volunteers felt compelled to pray for a girl who seemed out of place. A little nervous to venture out and approach a stranger to pray for them, she asked another younger volunteer to join her. Without even pointing out the girl who needed prayer, the second volunteer walked straight over to the girl and both volunteers began to minister to her. 

"Are you a Christian?" they asked. 

"No, I am not" came the reply.

"Would you like to be?" asked the volunteers.

"Not yet" the girl answered honestly.

"Can we pray for you?" said the volunteers.

"Certainly" said the girl.

 And, so they prayed. In this girl’s life, a decision has yet to be made, but a seed was planted.

Later on at the tent, a middle-aged couple came by to sign the pledge. They informed us it was their 6th year of signing the pledge and they wouldn’t miss it for the world. They take a copy of the pledge home each year and truly endeavor to live it out. Moments after signing, they went and got another couple (obviously friends of theirs) and brought them to sign the pledge as well. They walked away a foursome, arm in arm. We watched them and were reminded of the power of the SoulFest pledge to transform lives. True Love Transforms.

As night fell, a group of 3 approached us and announced they were the ones who had been given the free multi-day pass the night before. They introduced us to Kerri, (the beneficiary of the free ticket.)

"I’m checking into Teen Challenge right after SoulFest and I am scared to death." 

We introduced her to one of our team-members, who graduated from the Teen Challenge program 10 years ago. God certainly put them together to strengthen Kerri’s resolve and to let her know that He cared about her very much. We prayed over her and as tears flowed freely, we left the two of them talking - one about to embark on a journey to sobriety, the other extending a hand of hope - saying, “You can make it.”

—————

There was such a blur of activity around the cross at SoulFest 2013 that it seems impossible to separate out the testimonies according to what day they happened. Suffice to say, these next sentences encapsulate the stories as they came to us.

Her name was Linda. She and her family attended the seminar for survivors. Her teenage son had ended his life tragically. He had learned of the Boston Marathon massacre and thought the world held just too much pain. So, he left a note and left this world. Talking about her son, you could see the pride in her eyes as she remembered who he was. The cross team surrounded her family with prayer. 

Later we connected her with Kevin Kadamus (who lost his own son four years earlier in a tragic accident). The two hugged, cried, and hugged some more. There in the shadow of the cross, one received comfort from another and the courage to go on.

A mother brought her two boys to the pledge tent to hear the story of Andrew Allard. One of the boys was just about Andrew’s age and as he listened to the story of how True Love transformed Andrew’s life, we watched him as we wiped our tears away. Instead of signing the pledges, they each took one and with sober faces, told their mom they wanted to sign it around the campsite as a family. The powerful pledge words gripped an entire family and will transform their year ahead. 

A woman walked up to the tent and asked how the True Love Exchange board worked. The staff explained and the woman offered her story. Friends of hers (a missionary family to Africa) had a 22-year-old daughter who remained in the states and was undergoing a faith struggle. Worried about her spiritual condition, the woman explained she wanted the young lady to come to SoulFest, but she simply couldn’t afford it. She asked if she could request a ticket for the last two days of the festival. Reaching into the prayer box, our volunteer staff pulled out a wristband that someone had donated minutes before. Elated, the woman and a friend of hers jumped for joy under the morning sky. True Love listens, True Love responds.

During a break between bands, a 22-year-old man came and sat next to one of our volunteers. “So what does SoulFest mean to you” our volunteer asked.

"It totally changes your perspective," came the answer. "You want to believe you can live like this everyday. You are so full of joy - you want to live from the inside out." 

"Exactly," said our volunteer, "Exactly."

Two ladies approached to ask about the cross. It was their first SoulFest. And while one was ready to drive her nail into the wood, the other seemed hesitant. “I am just not ready,” she said. “I am afraid if I put it down, I will pick it up again tomorrow.” Our volunteer’s spiritual ears discerned the Lord saying the issue was a father she could not forgive. When that message was delivered through prayer, the woman was shocked that God’s love could be so personal.  

Her friend turned to her and said, “Wow, that was exactly what you needed to hear.” 

"I know," she replied. "I think I need some time to process, but I will be back to drive the nail." 

15 minutes later…the nail was driven in… deep. 

—————

At the close of Saturday night, while the volunteers were cleaning up and tearing down, the cross team (and friends) stood hand-in-hand in a ring around the battered wooden cross. Hundreds (if not thousands) of nails protruded from the cross - each one a life story, each one a precious commitment, a promise to God. As we prayed to conclude the festival and prepared to go home, we did so with the knowledge that True Love does transform…it had done that very thing, for each of us.

Thank you, SoulFest, for making the cross the center of all that happens.

We can’t wait for next year.

-Loren and Amanda Decker

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Going 7/31/2013 want to know if it is worth it to upgrade to on-stage seating?
Anonymous

That is for you to decide. Being in the crowd for some people is more fun. But some others like the opportunity to be closer to the bands. It’s all personal preference.