Ichthus Festival director Jeff James has an animated moment during an organizational meeting for the event's environmental initiative as Natalie Corso from Crossroads Christian Church and Carrie Berend with the Catholic Action Center look on. (Below) Ginny Ramsey of the Catholic Action Center. Copyrighted LexGo photos by Rich Copley.
Add the Ichthus Festival to the growing list of cultural outposts “going green.”
At last year’s festival, the second edition held in June and after most school systems close, Ichthus began bringing in church groups who were coming to the festival anyway and asking them to do service projects in Lexington and Eastern Kentucky in the half-week before the music started.
This year, those projects will have an environmentally-friendly theme.
During the three days before the festival, the mission groups will participate in clean-up and planting projects in several Lexington inner-city neighborhoods and Eastern Kentucky communities, and they will help educate kids in those areas about how they can be more environmentally friendly.
“Sometimes we’re given stuff we’re supposed to do,” said Ginny Ramsey of the Catholic Action Center, which is helping organize the Ichthus initiative. “When it’s right in front of you, what can you do but do it. The Lord is going to take us where we need to be.”
The initiative at the 39-year-old Wilmore Christian rock music festival, June 12-14, reflects a growing trend of evangelical churches embracing environmental concerns. Several area churches are participating and helping house participants such as Immanuel Baptist Church, The Vineyard Church and Crossroads Christian Church.
Ichthus Festival director Jeff James says he is not necessarily sold on theories of global warming, but he does think that, “it’s important we accept our roles as protectors of God’s provision.
“There’s a larger issue here of taking care of creation for future generations.”
At an organizational meeting in late April, Chad Mayes of Southside Christian Church in Harrodsburg brought the issue back around to a basic message of evangelism: “Jesus recycled you. He sifted through the garbage in your life to reclaim you.”
Ramsey originally named the initiative Defenders of Creation, though, participants from several churches and faith-based organizations at that organizational meeting said they thought “creation” was too much of a hot button word and distracted from the initiative’s intention.
“People hear that and immediately think, ‘creation vs. evolution,’” one participant said.
After some brainstorming, the group settled on ECOS — Earth Commission: Operation Simplify.
In addition to the mission projects, the green initiatives will have a presence at the actual festival with film of the projects being shown on the big screens at the main amphitheater. Information will be provided throughout the weekend about conservation, simplifying life and even recycling items used at Ichthus, such as plastic bottles. A service of commitment to care for the earth will be held the last day of the festival.
The effort will be documented by The Doorpost Project out of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., which will also set up a website.
“This is about kids making a difference in the world and then taking the information home with them,” Ramsey says. “Youth can change the world.”