Together at the Snow Bowl
Camden — A couple of years ago, Pastor Ray Thombs of Camden’s Celebration Life Family Church and a group of like-minded men went to the top of Ragged Mountain and prayed. Each inscribed his initials on a stone, leaving it at the summit as evidence of his commitment to create a family-friendly worship festival at the base of the mountain.
“In January, we said, OK, let’s make this happen,” said Thombs, standing on the deck of the Camden Snow Bowl lodge a week before WorshipFest 2012.
WorshipFest will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, offering live music, inspirational speakers, food and merchandise vendors, a prayer tent, a bounce house and face painting, hiking and swimming and chair lifts and more. Thombs has been working with nine pastors from Waldoboro to Camden and eight in the Belfast area in an effort to, as the festival’s Old Testament prophet tagline puts it, gather themselves Together As One.
“One of our principles is based on the story of Nehemiah, who re-established the people as one and things got restored. We believe that when you get rid of divisions and worship together as a people, the community’s social problems begin to disappear,” he said.
The festival’s organizers found there were a number of people willing to fund such an endeavor, so much so that the gate fee will be going to three different beneficiaries — Five Town Communities That Care, Care Net Pregnancy Center and L.I.F.E. Recovery, an addiction ministry. All will have booths at the festival, as will several local food vendors. WorshipFest is not charging vendor fees as the health of local businesses is part of its community focus.
Even in a faith-driven event, God is in the details and Thombs has gotten logistical advice from North Atlantic Blues Festival co-producer Paul Benjamin, who will be on hand during set-up. Also in place will be Camden Police and First Aid; WorshipFest is hoping for at least 1,200 attendees. Thombs' church has hosted a number of Christian concerts and festival organizers originally were thinking of featuring six different bands. The costs just ran too high.
“Maybe next year,” said Thombs, a singer/songwriter who will perform with the band of his church, which is located in the Knox Mill.
Two nationally-known guest performers also will play a couple of sets each, and the music will alternate with speakers including Thombs, Maine Elders Coalition President John Eckhard, Youthstorm’s Seth Aumock and Jamie Dickson of Crave Revival, the latter two described by Thombs as young guys with appeal to teens and 20-somethings.
Appealing to fans of alternative rock will be John Waller, whose fierce faith is expressed on the title track of his latest album, “As For Me and My House.” Thombs has opened for Waller and put that connection to work to bring the popular musician, and his full band, to Midcoast Maine. Coming all the way from Colorado will be Jared Anderson. Known for his work with the Desperation Band, Anderson offers contemplative songs of worship in a piano pop vein.
The event’s website, worshipfest2012.com, has a schedule for the day, but the festival is designed to be free flowing, offering families the opportunity to enjoy a day together on many levels in a beautiful outdoor setting. WorshipFest is a go rain or shine, and attendees should bring their own lawn seating, be it beach chairs or blankets. They also can bring their own refreshments if they prefer. Attendees will get wristbands at the gate so they can come and go as needed. Thombs is not that concerned about people visiting the Snow Bowl to hike and bike “crashing” the fest.
“To me, the Kingdom of God is about generosity. There’s a clear message that the church, and its community, is restored when it’s known for generosity,” he said.
Tickets are $20, free for children younger than 6, and group rates are available; for advance tickets, see the festival’s website or visit thelighthouseevents.com.
Courier Publications' A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.