Written by Rain Jordan, Vice President of Academic Enrollment & Student Services
Oh, the places you’ll go!”
– Dr. Suess
This summer I made the trek from Berkeley, CA up into the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina to attend the Wild Goose Festival for the first time. Wild Goose is an annual faith-inspired art and music festival grounded in social justice. It’s held in the campground of Hot Springs Resort & Spa, which sits right along the beautiful French Broad River and the Appalachian Trail. It’s quite a marvel of nature. The event features over 500 speakers, musicians, artists, activists, exhibitors, and vendors (better known at Wild Goose as partners and co-creators) and draws a gathering of over 5,000 people of all faiths and religions from around the country who are dedicated to faith-centered social justice and activism.
Starr King has partnered with Wild Goose in the past, but this was the first time I attended. I was excited and proud to represent Starr King’s mission and to introduce our graduate programs to those who felt called or curious to explore a path toward ministry, religious leadership, social activism, and/or chaplaincy. It was deeply inspiring to meet and experience a community of people from diverse backgrounds and faiths, united by a common good, especially during these difficult times. I felt the sense of urgency for justice and change everywhere.
In addition to my work at the festival, members of our beloved Starr King community showed up to do their work in a myriad of ways. SKSM Board Trustee, Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, delivered the ceremonial Wild Goose “Sending the Goose” finale on the main stage. Rev. Dr. Flunder spoke about the importance of “finding your purpose from the One who assigned it,” and the need to live your purpose during the dangerous times in which we currently live. Kiya Heartwood, third-year M.Div. student, songwriter, musician, and activist performed on the Café stage. Kiya seamlessly weaved storytelling, truth-telling, and audience participation into her performance creating a unifying musical experience. Lauren Levwood, third-year M.Div. student, dancer, doula, massage therapist, and mom introduced her new movement ministry, “Soma Spiritus,” in the Healing Arts tent. Blyth Barrow, our former Registrar, showed up in her new role as Faith and Harm Reduction Coordinator for Faith in Public Life. We also had SKSM Board Trustee, Rev. Alison Miller, and her husband David stop by the Star King tent.
The Wild Goose schedule of events offered its community a bounty of choices. There were so many extraordinary opportunities to engage with a widely diverse group of thought leaders such as the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Barbara Brown Taylor, Bushi Yamato Damashii, Marianne Williamson, John Pavlovitz, Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, and more. There were equally extraordinary opportunities to listen to great music, create art, attend workshops, join a sing-along, pray, go to church, talk to one another, take a dip in the river, or sleep under the stars.
It’s impossible to capture the gravity of such a gathering as the Wild Goose Festival in a short blog. However, it has become clear to me over the recent days of escalating violence in our country, that community is a necessity. When people from near and far, of many faiths and religions, can come together to share a deep love and commitment for the common good of justice and equality, it is an act of solidarity, resistance, and transformation.