WILLIAMSBURG, VA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Operators of twenty-five of the nation’s largest Christian music festivals gathered together in Kansas City for a common goal: to see their individual organizations grow both spiritually and fiscally, so that more lives can be changed for glory of God. Three days later, the group had formed the Christian Festival Association (CFA), with a vision to "provide and facilitate an open communications environment that links Christian festival organizers together for encouragement, shared information and resources, and addressing common business circumstances and goals, all for the purpose of increasing the success and professionalism of participating festivals so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be advanced and glory brought to Jesus Christ, our Lord."
Each year, over 22 million fans of Christian music attend live events in venues ranging from small church gatherings to huge arena-based shows. According to Bob Thompson (Atlanta Fest), the group’s newly-elected President: “Each summer, well over a million of those fans attend multi-day events, known as Christian music festivals, from coast to coast.
"The Christian music festivals put on by CFA members are attended by over 1.2 million of those fans. Collectively, these festivals send out over 2.5 million direct mail pieces, send E-mail blasts to over 4 million potential attendees and hang posters in nearly a million churches, schools and retail locations,"” Thompson said. "Collectively, the CFA member websites attract over 150 million annual hits. These marketing efforts are augmented by significant electronic media coverage on Christian radio and TV stations nationwide."
Association Vice President Harry Thomas (Creation Festivals and Friendship Fest) added: "I was delighted by the open and honest dialogue that took place at our meeting. We are bound together by a common goal – to change lives for the kingdom of Jesus Christ – and we were united by His call. Our member festivals have been operating independently for many years and will continue to do so. But we think that we can multiply our Kingdom impact by working together."
The twenty-five charter members of the CFA include events from coast-to-coast and border-to-border. The member festivals include:
Agape Festival – Greenville, Illinois
Alive Festival – Canal Fulton, Ohio
Atlanta Fest – Atlanta, Georgia
Celebration – Texas
Cornerstone Festival – Bushnell, Illinois
Cornerstone California – Orange County, California
Cornerstone Florida – Florida
Creation Festival East – Mt. Union, Pennsylvania
Creation Festival West – George, Washington
Ichthus – Wilmore, Kentucky
Kingdom Bound – Darien Center, New York
King’s Fest – Doswell, Virginia
LifeLight Festival – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Lifest – Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Purple Door Festival – Pennsylvania
Rock The Coast – Muskegon, Michigan
Rock The Desert – Midland, Texas
Rock The Light – Kansas City, Missouri
Rock The Universe – Orlando, Florida
Sonshine Festival – Minnesota
SoulFest – Gilford, New Hampshire
Spirit Song – Cincinnati, Ohio
Sprit West Coast – Monterey, California
Spirit West Coast – Del Mar, California
Unity Christian Music Festival – Muskegon, Michigan
Officers elected were: Bob Thompson (Atlanta Fest), President; Harry Thomas (Creation Festivals and Friendship Fest), Vice President, and Donna Russo (Kingdom Bound), Secretary. Appointed to the group’s Board of Directors were Bill Graening (Alive Festival) and John Herrin (Cornerstone Festivals). Committee chairs are: Jon Robberson (Spirit West Coast), Festival Operations Committee; Jeff James (Ichthus Festival), Spiritual Growth and Event Development Committee); Chuck Tilley (Atlanta Fest, Rock the Universe, Rock the Light and Celebration), Sponsorship and Promotion Committee; and Roger Eikenberry (Unity Festival), Audit Committee.
At the meeting, held September 14-16 at the offices of Premier Studios in Kansas City, the CFA members formalized a statement of mission and vision for the organization, and formally adopted a constitution and set of bylaws. “I was surprised and delighted by the progress we made as a group,” said Donna Russo (Kingdom Bound), the group’s newly-elected Secretary. “Each day, we asked for God’s hand to guide our proceedings and we were not disappointed.”
Going forward, the group plans to meet face-to face twice each year, once in the Fall, and once in the Spring in conjunction with the annual Gospel Music Association convention in Nashville. Committees will meet monthly via teleconference, and will report their findings and recommendations to the membership at the meeting and through regular group teleconferences.
"It’s a beginning," said Thompson, "but it’s an exciting new day. We are all looking forward to being better together than we have been working separately. We all know that we have been given an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on young lives in America. But we also know that to whom much has been given, much is expected."
The 2007 season of Christian music festivals begins on April 27 in Greenville, Illinois. While most events take place during the summer months, CFA member festivals take place in every region of the United States from April to September.