Hi everyone,

Well here we are at the end of November and things are in many ways no less certain than months ago! We are still in what a few Sunday’s back David Jeremiah labeled as “unprecedented times”.

And that’s the point of writing this note. We - The Festival One Board and Management - have taken, and continue to take the view that, just as in previous years of uncertainty we press on. The other option is a kind of paralysis where you are waiting for decisions that may or may not come! In the meantime nothing happens.

So... we’ve been pressing on. Last week Hamilton locals travelled to the stunning new site at Hartford, in Karapiro and helped those of us still trapped in Auckland by doing a very specific reconnaissance and taking lots of pictures and videos. We then had further meetings with the site and management teams and pressed on with planning - as we have been doing for over 2 years (Thank goodness that we’ve been going to new site over and over and know it really well! Roll on Dec 15!).

I’ve been thinking and praying hard about how we best curate Festival One 2022 to meet us ‘where we are’ as we all bring our own stories and previous 2 years of unprecedented life with us.

I’ve been reflecting on how I feel, and how my family and friends feel. I’m more fragile than perhaps I’ve ever been. I’m ok, but I’m rather finely poised - if you know what I mean. Little things mean more than they should. I feel like I have increasingly fewer “life” experiences to share with people when we talk, that my life has got very narrow and rather empty. I’m missing real, solid relationships in sufficient quantity to be nourishing. I’m heartily sick of talking about Covid but can’t seem to help myself from doing it! I feel like I’m living with hope, and then that hope gets taken away, and then hope, and then that hope gets taken away… you get the drift. It’s not easy. In fact it’s jolly hard.

I think we all feel a bit like this to a greater or lesser degree.

Since mid February I have thought the theme for Festival One 2022  should be a celebration. A celebration of being on the new site. A celebration of being part of God’s family, and a celebration of being able to be together.

I think that is still right. Although I’ve come to lean towards, and understand more deeply, the phrase about being part of God’s family. That I am His, no matter what my circumstances are. That His arms are holding me, and will never let go.

So how does all this translate to Festival One?

As of right now, and for some time, I’ve not felt like a lot of ra ra ra. I’ve not felt like being pressured to suddenly be joyful and full of energy. Personally I’m keener to be greeted gently and kindly, lovingly and graciously. I want to be valued and appreciated in a world that increasingly feels like it’s out of control and encouraging me to be divisive and tempting me to speak harshly of others.

We all know others who are feeling similarly, and some who are in real struggles, and are living through real tragedies. It is just heartbreaking.

The Festival One community are an incredible family. As I talk to Festival One crew I’m continually surprised by their desire to keep helping with festival despite their own difficulties. It is incredibly humbling to be around such quality people.

Talking with people it quickly becomes apparent that some are not able to be involved, and we want anyone in that position, crew, artist, vendor or guest alike to know that you are no less loved, no less appreciated. Should either yours or our circumstances change, you are always welcome.

The various leadership teams - board, management, site, creative, market, etc, have been thinking hard about this. Jayraj (head of Artists and Programming), has been thinking particularly hard about it and has come up with a programme for Festival One 2022 that looks in part the same, but is also in part different to anything we have done before.

We are making a number of changes. We are working on making the festival nestle into the new site more deeply, to make more use of the beautiful creation we have around us. We are all certain that we need to spend time connecting with the Creator, and we want to use the beautiful new site to its full advantage.

We are changing the way we programme the first 16 hours of festival to allow for a softer start, time to get adjusted and time to just be. We have altered our stage set ups, more smaller stages making room for more intimate programming, and less larger stages.

Russell (Head of Security) has been working really hard on how you arrive at site, how we set up the flow of vehicles and people so that there is as little stress as possible. He’s been working on how we set up to greet and welcome you.

Jozsef (Head of Production and Technical) and his team are working through the challenges of not doing stages exactly as before while still making sure that we give everyone a truly great time. Intimacy and celebration!

So… we are working hard to provide a festival that gently embraces people, encourages social reconnection, provides a good mix of both space and crowds, and that above all takes us all on a journey towards full on celebration of our God and Heavenly Father by the end of festival. To start gently and then build up. To build towards real celebration. Because as children of the King we indeed have much to celebrate, despite whatever our circumstances might be. All of us, crew, artists, guests, vendors, missions, everyone - we are hanging out for this!

I’m really looking forward to being able to finally get together. As I said, I’m a bit fragile myself, and on one hand I can’t wait to be with you all, and on the other hand I’m a wee bit nervous about my ability to cope. Aren’t we all?

I’m looking forward to celebrating our Heavenly Father, to being all together to give thanks to His Son, our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, and to walk in power of The Spirit as we continue the process of reconnection. I need this too!

And isn’t that what our faith is actually all about? Relationships. The restoration of relationships. That’s the essence of the gospel story - God sending His Son to restore our broken relationship with Him. And us with each other and all of creation.

Aching to be together with you all again.

God bless.