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Rick Meredith

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.

What are people saying about Wild Goose 2016?

By Featured-25 Comments


Ever since the closing moments of Wild Goose 2016, we’ve heard from many who had profound experiences at the festival this year. Who found community. And communion. Not to mention, really good coffee.

We wanted to share some of the blog posts and other things we’ve run across in social media about the 2016 festival, with this wider group. So you’ll find links below.

And if you’ve written something, or will be writing something soon, please send us the link so we can pass along your thoughts, too. You can share that in the comments section below.Steve-Podcast

For a great all-round summary of the festival, take a listen to Steve Ray’s podcast from the event. He interviews Science Mike and Michael Gungor and many others who were there, and asks them what the Goose is all about and why it matters.  

Laura Parrott Perry, one of the presenters at the festival, blogs about wandering into OPENINGS, the late night worship event, and finding space to lament all that’s going on in the world, and to find hope again.

Jade T. Perry, another Goose presenter, reflects on her experience, particularly as person of color, about sitting with and holding both peace and grief together there. Read her full post here.

Rev. Susan Rogers, writes about all the stories she heard at Wild Goose, and also of the shared story we created together, and leaving with the sense that we are not alone.

PostGoose2-1675Author, therapist and spiritual director, Marshall Jenkins, tells about his experience of discovering sacred space in the community and communion he found by the French Broad River.

Blogger, Austen Hartke, the creator of the YouTube series “Transgender and Christian,” made a short video blog about the festival, you’ll definitely want to take look at.

Melanie Lynn Griffin, in her blog, Writing With Spirit, shares some images that stayed with her the first day or so after the festival, here.

And here’s a reflection from Drew Downs,  an episcopal priest, blogger and also a dad — who came to the Goose with his 8-year-old daughter, an experience filled with minor miracles and moments he might have missed otherwise.

Amy Rutledge Vaughan wrote the poem, “Re Entry,” about coming home after Wild Goose and wondering: “How do we make this more than simply a wonderful moment in time? How do we make this a movement?” You can read her poem on our Facebook page, here.

PostGoose5-8926Gareth Higgins, who helped birth the Wild Goose Festival in 2011, was back with us this year, and shared a blessing on Sunday from the main stage that was quite powerful. You can find that blessing at this link on Gareth’s site.

And, finally, Gina Marina wrote a wonderful piece on her Facebook page, looking back at all she learned and experienced.  And how she managed not to have any “cotton candy conversations” the whole four days. Read her post in full here.

Another easy way to tell us your stories of Wild Goose this year, is to share them in this space we’ve set up specifically for gathering them. We hope you’ll do so, because telling our stories and hearing each other’s stories matters. As the author Sue Monk Kidd wrote, “Stories have to be told, or they die. And when they die, we can’t remember who we are, or why we’re here.”

What did you take home from Wild Goose 2016? Tell us your story.

By Featured-116 Comments


The theme of the Goose this year has been Story. Because stories are important. Our lives are shaped by them. Our world is shaped by them. And too often the loudest stories we hear around us are ones of exclusion and scarcity, violence, hatred, division.

But we came together for four days in July on the banks of the French Broad River, to tell and share some new stories, to hear stories, heal stories, sing and dance and paint stories, to lament the painful stories we’ve been through, and to receive, reshape and reimagine the stories of our lives and our world. Because we believe it makes a difference.

Did it make a difference? What stories did you hear, what stories did you create and tell and discover this year at Wild Goose? What moments rearranged you?  Changed you? Opened your eyes and heart?

Share your Wild Goose 2016 stories with us. We want to hear them. And share them with our broader community here.

To do that you can simply write your story in the comments section below. If you write a blog about your experience at the festival, share that link with us as well.

Let’s not let the storytelling end just because the festival is over. Because Wild Goose can be so much more than a festival…we hope it will be an ongoing conversation in which we can listen to each other, support each other and inspire each other.

Top 10 Tips: How to get the most from the Goose

By Goose News

Can you believe it? Wild Goose 2016 is almost here.  With so much to see and hear and do we thought you might like a few suggestions from experienced Goose-goers on how to enjoy yourself as much as possible.


Tip #1:  Make a plan. Now, before you arrive. The schedule is online, so you could start this very moment. The good news is there are so many great options, practically every moment of the day. The bad news is many are happening simultaneously, so the first thing you’ll have to deal with is the fact that you can’t do everything. But relax…you can do a lot. And whatever you end up at will be wonderful. And if you’re traveling with others, you can divide and conquer. Workshops end about 10 minutes before the hour so you should have time for a restroom break and to walk to the next venue. By the way, if you are trying to hang with friends or family, you might want to designate meeting places and times. Cell service is spotty, at best.

Tip #2: Toss the plan. Talk to strangers.
Wild Goose veterans tell us the conversations they have are the most significant part of the Goose experience. As cool as having a plan is, and as amazing as all the speakers, storytellers, mystics and musicians are, often the big life-changing moments at Wild Goose are the small ones. Don’t worry too much about the next event you want to get to. Take the time to meet new people, hang out with them, and don’t rush off from that conversation just to get to the next item on your plan. Forget what your mother might have taught you…and definitely DO talk to strangers.   Surprisingly deep encounters with complete strangers, conversations with someone you meet at a workshop, or while picking up some lunch, are a huge part of what makes Wild Goose more than just another summer music festival.  Take it in.

Tip #3: Bring your “festive” to the festival. You and what you bring to the festival are a huge part of what makes it what it is. So bring your wild, including a few things to personalize your campsite – flags, fabric, streamers, lights (battery powered and solar Christmas lights work great) – decorating your little corner of the campground will make you and everyone around you feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore. Wear clothes you’d wear around your non-judgey-ist friends…your fun-nest, silliest, wildest, most creative. Strange hats are always welcome. And feather boas, because, well…feather boas.

Tip #4: Do some exploring.  When you arrive, grab a map and take a tour of the grounds, locating the various tents where all the workshops and music, art, and worship events will happen. Note where the food vendors are and check out all they will be offering. (That way you won’t get to the end of the weekend and be kicking yourself because you didn’t know they had those crazy-delicious burritos.) Also scope out the restrooms and the Porta-potties…there are plenty of them, so lines are rare… and they’re usually more pleasant than you’d imagine.

 Tip #5:. Try something new…or at least not something you do every day. Don’t usually do art? Visit the studio tent and get up to your elbows in a project or two.  Don’t usually talk about yourself? Tell your story to the WGTV camera or participate in any number of other storytelling opportunities. Only sing hymns in church? Sing them like you’re at a rugby game with a beer in hand, at one of our Beer and Hymns gatherings. Have a lot of questions? Stop by the Troubling the Gospel Tent and starting asking them. Always wanted a tattoo but just haven’t quite made the leap yet? Visit our tattoo artist (but if you want something custom, contact her ahead of time with your vision). Never experienced a podcast, live? Now’s your chance – check out GooseCast Live.

Tip #6: Take care of yourself. Bring an umbrella. You’ll need it for sun – especially at the Main Stage – and perhaps for rain. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, flashlights, headlamps (always attractive…), and chairs – most people bring folding camp chairs, which you can use at your campsite and also bring with you to the main stage for a comfy seat while listening to music and speakers. Bring a favorite mug, and a water bottle (free bulk water is provided) and stay hydrated. By the way, some people also suggest that you bring a blanket or tarp to put over your tent to keep it cooler and have a battery-powered fan. Important camper tip: Stock up on firewood before 5 PM Thursday while you are still allowed to have your vehicles on the grounds (versus safely tucked away in the parking lot).

Tip #7:
Live in the moment, embrace the unpredictable, and also, possibly some rain. Wild geese are, by their very nature, wild….unpredictable, untamed, uncontrollable. That’s why the Wild Goose became the Celtic symbol for Holy Spirit. And the symbol we’ve claimed. So try to be flexible, especially when things don’t go exactly as you’d like them to or think they should. Be open to the moment. Open to new ideas, new ways to connect with God’s wild and loving spirit. Open to new music – emerging artists happen to be playing almost all day every day, at the Cafe. And if the moment happens to include a downpour of rain, consider going out and playing in the mud. (Oh, and if you need a refresher on how to live with gratitude for the moment, feel free to drop by the kids’ tent, for a little reminder.) Speaking of gratitude, find a way to say thank you to the volunteers, every single day. They’re the unsung heroes of this event.

Tip #8: See yourself as an actor, not a spectator. You are a significant contributor. Not an insignificant observer. Tell stories, read your poetry, collaborate on some art, do yoga, speak up in the workshops, dance to the music, take communion, join an instant choir, walk the labyrinth, invite people to have dinner with you, bring your drums and get in the circle, jump in the river, let your hair down, let your guard down, be as fully present as you want to be, and possibly as loud as a wild goose (except after midnight, at which point local ordinances require we quiet down a bit. Which is why we have a Silent Disco).

Tip #9: Enjoy being off the grid for a few days. You know how we mentioned cell service/internet is fairly unreliable? This is because of the beautiful Smoky Mountains surrounding us…and the number of people trying to access it all at one time.  So if you can’t check your Facebook, post on Instagram, or Tweet, consider just sitting and taking some deep breaths. Allow yourself to slow down and let feelings happen. You may find yourself having a lot of feelings that don’t fit neatly into a 140 character count.  So you might want to bring a journal and a pen.  You also might want to get your social media fix while on the road to and from the festival. Which would be great. Instagram, Tweet, Facebook your heart out and share with  #WildGoose2016. That way we can all start connecting even before arrival. And stay connected on the way home.

Tip #10: Attend Joy Wallis’s “Get the Most Out of The Goose” session, Thursday, 5PM in the Spirituality Tent. Joy Wallis is our board chair and has been with the festival from the beginning. She knows better than anyone how to do the Goose. So she’ll be sharing her tried and true tips and taking questions. It’s a great chance to meet some new folks right away, too.

Oh, did we mention? The rumors are true. There WILL be ice cream!
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, for the first time ever in the history of the Goose, we will have an ICE CREAM TRUCK. Oh yeah, baby. Look for it near the main stage area.

Have some practical questions we may not have covered here? Check out our FAQ page.

Can’t wait to see you.

Theology. Ecology. Good food for all.

By Goose News

Guest post by Methodist Theological School In Ohio

We’re from Ohio.
Thomas Edison was born here before his family moved to Michigan to follow the railroad. The Wright Brothers developed the first airplane in their Dayton bicycle shop before their historic sustained flight, which took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It’s a point of contention between Ohio and North Carolina, even now.

MTSO_900A simple place.
Still, many world-changing events have taken place here. While Edison was moving to Michigan to embrace the future, abolitionists were secretly moving enslaved people across the Ohio River, along the Underground Railroad and toward the hope of freedom. And, 100 years later and 30 miles to the north of the river, 800 volunteers met in Oxford, Ohio, to train for the violence they would face during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

With great significance.
Also in 1964, just north of Columbus, four professors at a brand new seminary, Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), were packing for a trip. It was Holy Week, but they were leaving for Jackson, Mississippi, to accompany black worshippers into the Easter service of a white Methodist church. On Easter morning, all nine members of the group were arrested during a dramatic encounter in front of Capitol Street Methodist Church on the charge of “disturbing divine worship.” Well, that started it.

A deep tradition of justice.
A few weeks later, the first graduates of MTSO earned their degrees, beginning a tradition of ministry and justice in Ohio and beyond. To this day, deep theological refection and social justice advocacy are at the core of MTSO’s cultural identity and work. As you are reading this, MTSO students and graduates are initiating and leading a network of Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools throughout Ohio, in direct succession of the original Freedom School movement.

And partnership.
In partnership, MTSO and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center are developing and teaching freedom theologies in the areas of race, gender and economics, and engaging churches and the public in conversation and action. MTSO will offer select for-credit courses at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, develop certificate programs and seminars for theologies of freedom, and host traveling exhibits from the Freedom Center in the Columbus area. 

Ecology. Theology. Good food for all.
The MTSO campus is located on 70 beautiful rolling acres just north of Columbus, and we’re putting those acres to good use in the movement toward ecological, economic and food justice. MTSO’s Seminary Hill Farm is a USDA-certified organic farm, offering a community-supported agriculture program and supplying our dining hall, local restaurants and social service agencies with fresh, local, organic produce. Also, our Community Food and Wellness Initiative supports the development of community gardens, urban farms, and other food projects, which increase food access and environmental resiliency, promote nutrition and active living, and create fair employment and just community.

Welcoming and affirming.
MTSO’s campus is both welcoming and affirming for those who might be excluded elsewhere. And our course content embraces theological reflection beyond the intersections of gender and sexuality. We strive to welcome all perspectives. It’s just who we are.

Come visit us.
We invite you visit with us, either in the Spirituality Tent at the Wild Goose Festival or on our campus in Central Ohio. You can also learn more about us on our websites and through Facebook and Twitter. Here are the links:

Web site:



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

Worship at the Goose – diverse, imaginative, radical acts of defiance and hope

By Goose News

49 dead in a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando. Black lives that don’t seem to matter nearly enough.  60 million refugees without a welcome. Transgendered rights under attack in North Carolina. Given all that’s happening in our world, we need opportunities to lament, reorient ourselves to God’s story, reconnect with hope and joy and remember that steaming piles of crap don’t get the last word.

Worship_900That’s why we’re grateful for all the different kinds of opportunities to gather together with song and story, prayer, liturgy and communion at the Goose this year. From early mornings to midday to late night. All of them opening up space and time to see, hear, sing, move, and reach for the God whose other name is Love. And perhaps, even, re-vision how to follow the way of Jesus, and be love in our world again.

We’ll start the weekend on Thursday night with Stories & Blessings, led by Ana Hernandez, with Paula Williams, J.Kwest,  and Rebecca Anderson. Beginning at 6:30 on our main stage, think of this as the opening invocation for the festival, but, of course, Wild Goose style…with music and story and sound and an open-heartedness that will open us all up, sort of like a deep breath after being underwater for too long.

Then Ken Medema and Jacqui Lewis will keep that spirit going, and kick it up a notch… or ten.  Ken, a musician and storyteller who’s been performing worldwide for over 40 years, is incredible at improvisation, playing off what is being said and done in the moment. It promises to be a powerful experience as he works with Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 900-member multiracial, multicultural, inclusive congregation in the East Village of Manhattan, who will deliver our opening sermon. Together they will help us imagine being a church that is truly multiethnic, multicultural, filled with the wild flurry of Spirit.

Before it gets too late on Thursday night, be sure to find the Episcopal Tent, because they will host Compline at 9 pm, Thursday (as well as on Friday and Saturday) and a number of worship gatherings throughout the weekend.

Set your alarm for Friday morning – and get back to the main stage by 8:30 am.  Melissa Greene, associate pastor, and Josh Hailey, creative director, both from GRACEPOINTE, an interdenominational, progressive Christian community in Nashville, will lead music and liturgy before Stan Mitchell, GRACEPOINTE’s senior pastor, speaks. GracePointe became one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community, after Mitchell found himself asking “Could you be a church in Selma and not march?” He, along with his congregation, decided they couldn’t. This hour promises to be a welcome taste of what happens every week at GRACEPOINTE, and their  “widened approach to the Gospel.”

IMG_1398You will definitely want to head to the Episcopal Tent at noon on Friday for Eucharist with spiritual theologian Matthew Fox. Co-founder of The (r)evolutionary Creation Spirituality movement, and author of a number of books, Fox was a Dominican for 40 years, and he’s especially known for bringing Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart and Hildegard of Bingen into the consciousness of contemporary Christians. A voice for social, environmental, and gender justice, it has been said that Fox  “…may be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging theologian in America.”

At 5:30 on Friday and Saturday, stop by the The Practice Space for a Taize Vespers Service, led by Leslie Withers and Mark Reeve. Taize is a kind of contemplative worship that includes periods of silence, punctuated by meditative singing. The songs come out of the Taize community in France, an ecumenical monastic order dedicated to kindness, simplicity and reconciliation. You could also head to The Episcopal Tent on Saturday at 6 for a Potluck Dinner Eucharist with Healing Prayer.

Another don’t-miss event — Friday at 11 pm,  join us at the Cafe for OPENINGS: Lament, Celebration, and Holy Communion with The Many. Born out of the collaboration of a diverse group of artists, writers, social justice activists, and pastors, with music by the emerging indie music collective, The Many, OPENINGS promises to be just what we need right now – time to lament, pray and sing, share bread and wine, and open a way to hope again. You’ll even have a chance to be in an Instant Choir for this event. Instant Choir Rehearsal is at 1 pm on Friday at the Circle Tent (listed as Openings, the Backstory, on the schedule).  It’s your chance to learn the new music that will be sung on Friday night so you can join in. The original music, much of it written for worship at the Jesus-and-justice-loving, multiracial, inclusive LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, has been described as “indie folk meets gospel choir meets social justice worship band.”

lightthruopeningWake up on Saturday morning and make a bee-line for the main stage again by 8:30 for Morning Liturgy: Praying with the Music of the World. Featuring music from Taize and Iona as well as from faith communities of Africa and South America. Led by Gary Rand, worship/arts pastor at LaSalle Street Church and McCormick Seminary in Chicago, he’s known for weaving together music, prayer, and liturgy from different traditions to open space for God to work and people to respond in the rich diversity of creation, experience and culture. He’ll be joined at 9 AM by Emilie Townes, who
will be reflecting on Psalm 124: The Theology of Somehow.  Emilie is the Dean and Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School with a perspective that we need to hear right now.  As she believes,  
“God speaks in a variety of ways, and when we try to confine God to speaking only one way to only a certain group of people, then we’re really creating God in ourselves.”

On Saturday at 4:00 pm, Matthew Fox and Howard Hanger will be leading “Earth Liturgy: The Blessed Mess”  in The Practice Space.

Then find your way to The Labyrinth Tent at 4:30 on Saturday to join Galileo Church and evangelist Katie Hays in an interactive liturgy crafted around the original music of singer-songwriter Paul Demer’s album Maybe All Is Not Lost. Layers of song, scripture, body prayer, query, and the sharing of bread and cup will invite us to discover how to stand for hope during a hard season, without retreating to the clenched fist of certainty.

On Sunday morning, you’ll want to head to the main stage again at 8:30 am, for Morning Liturgy: Prayer, Songs and Strong Coffee. It’s BYO Coffee by the way. And you can take part in a Catholic Mass at 9 am on Sunday in the Labyrinth.

For the closing liturgy of the weekend, which begins at 11 am on the main stage, we will celebrate God’s stories in our stories and our stories in God’s stories, led by two engaging liturgist/artist/activists, Matthew David Morris and Cláudio Carvalhaes. Matt has led liturgy at Wild Goose before, with words and music that take us into greater truth and a stronger sense of connection with ourselves, our world and our Creator. This will be Claudio’s’ first time with us, but he is known around the world as someone on the cutting edge of cross-cultural worship, a voice of liberation among communities of color, and a prophetic presence among those who are pushing the church into the 21st century. We can’t imagine a more fitting ending to the weekend, one of both challenge and hope, culminating in the celebration of the Eucharist together.

handsThere are so many reasons to come to Wild Goose.  So many things to hear and see and do –  music, speakers, opportunities to hang out and have amazing conversations. But we believe participating in liturgies, experiencing Eucharist, and singing out our fear and faith and sorrows and joy in communal rituals, may be some of the most significant times you will have here. In the mess and mudhole that is too often the reality of our world today, worship at the Goose can be, as writer Lenora Rand said recently in a piece in Red Letter Christian’s blog, “…an act of defiance in the face of the prevailing powers of the gods of scarcity, injustice, hate and violence.”

We hope you’ll join us for as many of these wild and holy, celebratory acts of defiance as you can.

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