A four-day festival offering 121 musical performers and over a dozen speakers focuses on faith this weekend in the Lakes Region. SoulFest 2010 brings together several top names in Christian music, including Toby Mac, MercyMe and Kutless; Jars of Clay will perform two nights.
The event’s real focus is on putting faith into action, with representatives from social justice organizations scheduled to address the crowd throughout the weekend. Thus, SoulFest will offer several onsite ways for the faithful to get involved. The True Love Exchange is a sort of Craigslist for people in crisis, a wall where those in need post requests for others to fill. Money from a daily Benevolence Offering will be donated to local charities, while the Walk4Water walkathon raises funds for a deepwater well in Lukodi, Uganda. There are also several workshops scheduled.
“The parable about the Good Samaritan isn’t about an experience he had during one of the times he had signed up on a clipboard at church to do something good on Tuesday between 7 and 9 p.m.,” wrote festival promoter Dan Russell on the event’s website to underscore the role of faith in the daily lives of believers.
“The evidence of our belief is clear in our homes, neighborhoods, communities and this world,” continues Russell, “because we do love one another, do not turn a blind eye and can’t really help ourselves when it comes to giving more than is asked.”
Jon Foreman agrees. His band Switchfoot is scheduled to headline Wednesday night (Aug. 4) and the singer/guitarist performs a solo set the same day. Said Foreman recently, while driving to a show in New Jersey, “I feel that faith is what you do with your life, what you do when you wake up, the way you vote, the gas you purchase, how you respond to BP in the Gulf, how you respond to your neighbors.”
Like other groups on the bill, Switchfoot has enjoyed significant mainstream success. Their 2003 release The Beautiful Letdown was certified double platinum, selling more than 2.6 million copies while yielding the radio hits “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move.”
Early in their career, the band took conscious steps to keep from being labeled as a Christian band. “Basically we’ve had the idea that we wanted to play wherever we can from the beginning,” Foreman said. “We’ve played bars, churches and coffee shops. I think it’s silly to put up boundaries around music when it’s all just out there.”
Foreman isn’t worried about his faith showing through in the songs he writes. “I’m always honored to be a cheerleader for Christ … but at the same time, I feel like to pigeonhole people, put them in boxes, you know, it’s not really where life happens, or my favorite moments in music happen either. So for us it’s just about being who we are, being true and honest and not hiding anything we’re given.”
Foreman is excited to be at SoulFest. He says the show’s organizers “brought us in back when no one wanted to bring us in a few years back, so it’s good to be able to come back and play a few years later. It’s a beautiful location; normally we don’t get a chance to play this part of the country very often. To be able to do a festival up there during the summer seems like a great way to go.”
One of the primary sponsors for this year’s festival is Not For Sale, an organization dedicated to eliminating human slavery. Most people are shocked to learn that it’s still an issue in the 21st century. Foreman got involved after meeting the charity’s founder David Batstone (who will also speak at SoulFest) after a Switchfoot show in the band’s hometown of San Diego.
Foreman believes the organization has a vital mission.
“We are living in a moment of history that is still changing,” he said. “We think of slavery as something of the past, Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, as something that we’ve eradicated at least in the United States. To come face to face with hard cold evidence that it’s not the case forces your hand, forces you to make a response. To think that around the world human trafficking in on the rise all over the globe, you realize we actually have a role to play.”