Once again this year representatives from the St. Tikhon’s Community along with seminary alumni and dedicated volunteers traveled to Bushnell, Illinois for the annual Cornerstone Christian Music Festival.
In light of the deeply rewarding missionary efforts of last year’s endeavor it was decided that once again St. Tikhon’s would play a part in the outreach at the Cornerstone Festival.
In early March the outreach team began preparing for this year’s event by making the necessary financial arrangements to ensure such things as pamphlets, books, lodging accommodations, fuel, as well as Orthodox t-shirts and books were made available for the team to be an effective and visible presence.
One thing that was immediately clear was that due to the ever-increasing financial uncertainty in our Orthodox communities many of the sponsorship opportunities that were made available to last year’s team would not be available for the 2012 event. Unwilling to allow this year’s festival (which incidentally may be the last Cornerstone Festival) to go without Orthodox representation, it was then decided that the St. Tikhon’s Community would begin raising the necessary funds to make this year’s event possible.
To that end we would like to thank the individuals and groups of individuals for their sponsorship of this year’s outreach team. It is because of your generous giving that this year's team was able to speak to hundreds of individuals about the fullness of the Orthodox faith, provide them with source materials to review after they left the festival, as well as exchange contact information to provide necessary follow-up over the course of the next year.
Many thanks to Fr. Alexander Atty, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Fr. Dennis Swencki, Chief Financial Officer St. Tikhon’s Seminary, The Board of Trustees of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Fr. Sergius, Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery for his generous donations of books and supplies, His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, His Grace, Bishop Mathias and the Diocese of the Midwest, His Grace, Bishop Michael and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey, Fr. John Parker and the Department of Evangelization for the Orthodox Church in America, Ron Moore and “Ancient Church Arts,” Bobby Maddox and Conciliar Press, John Valadez and “Death to the World,” and to the families and parish communities of each of the team members.
This year’s outreach team consisted of Fr. Joel Weir (STOTS 2010), Rector of St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Crawfordsville, IN, Fr. Nicholas Dellerman (STOTS 2009), Rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Norwich, CT, Fr. Christopher Foley, Rector of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in High Point, NC, Luke Beecham, former Director of Youth for the Orthodox Church in America, Stephen Wendland, Mike Poulin, Liam Weir, and finally Christopher Patton (STOTS 2005) Assistant to the Dean for Media, Publications, and Public Affairs, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
This year the outreach team attempted to build on the foundation that was laid last year by not only holding Orthodox prayer services but also to provide several talks on various topics immediately following the evening prayer service. Statistically speaking, both the services and the talks were very well attended, each having as many as 55 people in attendance and curious about the Orthodox Faith.
“It was an amazing experience!” said Fr. Nicholas Dellerman, It is remarkable to be surrounded by so many young people hungry for the Orthodox Faith and eager to ask real and heartfelt questions that they have been unable to find answers for elsewhere.”
This year in preparation for the event a special section of the St. Tikhon's Seminary Website was also developed to provide necessary information for interested in understanding more about the Orthodox Faith. A special online adaptation of the book "These Truths We Hold" was made available and then linked with the newly registered domain name www.churchstillstands.org. This website address was then placed on each and every flyer the outreach team handed out at the concert event. This has already begun to generate hundreds of additional visits to the seminary website.
Unfortunately, it was also announced in late spring that this year may be the last Cornerstone Festival. Financial concerns and changing demographics were reported by Cornerstone organizers as the reason for ending this 29 year old music festival. Though as recently as two weeks ago several concerned groups have entered into a discussion with JPUSA, the group responsible for the event for the past nearly three decades, on how other interested parties might help shoulder some of the financial burden of the organization and help ensure the festival continue at least in some way into the future.
If some way forward is found, St. Tikhon’s hopes to continue to be an Orthodox presence each year at the Cornerstone Christian Music Festival. If, however, this year was the last year, alternate venues are currently being reviewed to ensure a similar type of outreach program can continue in the years to come.
If you would like to become a sponsor of next year’s team please contact St. Tikhon’s Seminary Department of Media, Publications, and Public Affairs at 570-561-1818 Ext. 6.