Beyond Festival Breaks Down Barriers to Promote Peace and Justice – Hope 103.2

Beyond Festival Breaks Down Barriers to Promote Peace and Justice

By Clare BruceTuesday 13 Nov 2018

Listen: Beyond Festival driector Andrew Palmer chats to Katrina Roe. Above: Speakers include (L-R)  Welcome to Australia founder Brad Chilcott, aid worker and activist Donna Mulhearn, and Aboriginal justice advocate Brooke Prentis.

Beyond Festival is no typical music event; it’s progressive fringe festival that’s promoting peace and breaking down old barriers in the faith community.

That’s the intent of event director Andrew Palmer, in an interview with Hope 103.2.  Andrew said the festival, birthed from the ashes of Black Stump Festival, aimed to include people of different ages, beliefs and communities, with the core message that “love of God and love of neighbour is one and the same”.

The three-day gathering in the Kangaroo Valley from November 23 to 25, aims to build an inclusive community and promote what organisers are calling ‘a gentle revolution’.

“It’s a gathering a group of people together who wouldn’t necessarily organise themselves together, people from different traditions and backgrounds, and bringing them together for some common good causes,” Andrew said, “like peace, justice, mercy, compassion, love, and the opportunity to build new friendships, new relationships, new connections.

“The things that bind us together are much greater than the things that draw us apart.”

The Common Causes of Compassion and Mercy

Founded by Christian arts leaders, the event has morphed into what is now a justice-focused collaboration with other community groups and traditions. It includes both faith-based and secular pop artists, as well as experts and speakers from a range of backgrounds and spheres.

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Andrew said this was an important shift for the festival, particularly when tackling social justice issues.

“As Christians we talk a lot about loving enemies and what it means to be people of peace,” Andrew said. “But if we don’t actually get to know people who view the world through the same lenses as we do then it’s really hard to actually do that, and we keep thinking about ‘us and them’.

“Beyond finds the possibility of people coming together to say, ‘it’s really us, and we can do this thing together.”

This year’s social justice focus is gendered violence, and Andrew said the best way to tackle it was not just to put walls up and have a purely church-based response – but to collaborate with community partners.

“The issue comes down fundamentally to power and the sharing of power,” he said.  “We make sure that the festival environment we create, and the spaces we carve out, are genuinely available for people of all difference world views and traditions.

“We want to be part of a different conversation that says ‘let’s gather around the things we hold in common.”

“It means we have people on the [speaking] bill who don’t come from a Christian perspective at all. We make sure that around issues of, say, gendered violence, we don’t go for a Christian who’s read a couple of books on family and domestic violence, we go for the experts, to make sure that we get the best information.”

He said breaking down walls and learning from one another across not only different denominations but also different worldviews, in a spirit of friendship, was the most powerful way to bring positive change.

“We need to break down the dynamics of power that say ‘we’ve got the truth and you need to agree with us, and if you don’t agree with us you’re wrong’,” he said. “That’s the stuff that builds walls of relationship that invariably lead in the end to violence.

“We want to be part of a different conversation that says ‘let’s gather around the things we hold in common.”

Andrew paints a picture of Beyond Festival as being like a table, where different people gather with a similar heart.

“The idea of justice is important for me, because I follow Jesus and Jesus speaks directly about this.”

“My atheist friend comes from their perspective, my Muslim friend might come from their perspective, my Sikh friend might come from their perspective, and we all come to the table of justice because we have a stake in that,” he explained.

“What that does is it provides me, as a follower of Jesus to meaningfully engage the idea of ‘why is justice important’? The idea of justice is important for me, because I follow Jesus and Jesus speaks directly about this.”

His aim is that the festival will provide a “non-confrontational, genuinely engaging, genuinely inclusive” space in which people can share ideas and world views, towards common goals.

This year’s festival includes an impressive lineup of artists including Gungor, Katie Noonan, Colin Lillie, East, St Joan, Paul Colman, Janey, the Hot Potato Band and the acapella gospel choir Café at the Gate of Salvation.

Speakers this year will include Mike Frost, Brooke Prentis, Brad Chilcott, White Ribbon Ambassadors and many more. There will also be fairtrade markets, food and wine, and plenty of opportunities for networking and forming new friendships.

In a bid to raise $10,000 towards preventing domestic violence, $10 of every ticket sold in the next 10 days will go towards Baptistcare’s violence prevention programs. Book at beyondfestival.com.au/tickets/.

 

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