I have waited for a few days to post my thoughts on Wild Goose 14, very purposefully. If anyone has ever heard me talk about the festival, it is no secret that I have a lot of love for it. This was year 4 for me. This was my first year that I had the honor of presenting. Year in and year out, I look forward to my brother and fellow Disciple Rev. William Barber’s preaching. This year he talked about the ordination (or coronation) of a king in the 72nd Psalm. He talked about how the king in the 72nd Psalm did not have power over or power of, but he had power to… His power was a responsibility to be fair and just. And as the festival grows and becomes more of a “head” in progressive Christianity, what will we have power to or will we trade that to power over or power of?
This weekend, someone compared The Wild Goose Festival to Catalyst, a conservative Christian conference that happens in Atlanta and the West Coast every year. And if that was the last time I ever hear the two compared, that’d be just fine for me. The person comparing the two said that the Wild Goose was the big conference of Progressive Christianity. It’s the biggest thing we have, they say. And that may be true. But I pray to God that we (the Goose) don’t restart bringing on the big names for sustainability’s sake. What makes the festival great is the flatness of it. It’s the community that makes us love the Goose, not the names. It’s the conversations around the campfires that bring us together, not the lecture halls. It’s the love of one another that bring us to the hills of North Carolina. And it’s great that we get to see Brian McLaren, Frank Schaeffer and Jars of Clay while we’re there, but truly, in my opinion, those speakers and musicians who have the big names, the book deals and the record sales are being invited to a family reunion. This is OUR event and we’re glad they’re here, but if they weren’t, we’d still have our family reunion, one way or another. As my dear friend Kimberly Knight says, it is through relationship that we learn. It’s the campfires that keep the festival going.
We need more diversity at the Goose, not less. I need my trans* brothers and sisters. I need my Black, Latino and Asian brothers and sisters. I need my Muslim, Jewish, Pagan and Ba’hai brothers and sisters. Because my story is wrapped up in their story. Our liberation is tied up together. I need the Goose because I need the stories of my brothers and sisters who are living on the front lines of liberation.
So, this is my plea to the Goose. Let us be a family. We’ll continue to support the festival and show up 2,000 people strong every summer and we don’t need big names and record deals to get us there. We need community. We need the parades. We need the camp fires. We need each other.
Blessings to you, oh weary traveler and may we find our selves in the hearts of one another. Bless you my Wild Goose family.
Pastor Terry Ramone Smith, Lover of our Neighbors Who Sleep Outside and Vanbassador.