CORNERSTONE FESTIVAL

FINALE

After a very recent JPUSA community-wide gathering to announce the final Cstone Festival I began to recall other events in my own life and that of JPUSA that felt somewhat similar to me and many others, even others outside our immediate fellowship:

Moving from one community house/neighborhood to a fresh set of buildings on another street. This happened several times through the years.

The final full-blown Resurrection Band (aka REZ) tour after some 28 years.

The sale of our Missouri farm and huge lodge, designed and built by several JPUSAs with logs and hand tools in the middle of the woods. Many friends, courtships, multi-family vacations, retreats and special events happened there.

The conclusion of our Cornerstone Magazine, long respected as one of the finest Jesus Papers and lauded with awards for it’s deep-thinking journalism, art and witness to alternative people all over North America. The staff had written for years about the poverty and homeless folk in our area. Between the sheer costs of huge readership, publication and distribution as well as time allotments and their heart for the poor that same staff launched our current Cornerstone Community Outreach, one of Chicago’s largest homeless shelters. Talk about practicing what one preaches! Indeed.

So it is with sadness we say “Farewell” to another “old friend”, a ministry that has been so multi-layered, so threaded through our lives and the lives of literally thousands of others over a 29-year span, that being Cornerstone Festival.

Begun out of a vision to bring relevant and multi-cultural no-holds-barred music, seminars, the arts, sporting events and a flavor of Christian community to a massively wide variety of Christ-followers, seekers and others has been an exquisite blessing.

From it’s inception in 1984 at Lake County Fairgrounds north of Chicago to it’s own Cornerstone Farm near Bushnell, Illinois the Fest saw countless engagements, honeymoon parties, weddings and sadly, even a death occur. Only God knows how many people came to faith, answers to life-dominating questions, deliverance from sin, challenges and tools for spiritual growth, call to ministry and missions and so much more.

Perhaps authentic friendships and in various ways, a deeper valuing of genuine Christian community is the most lasting effect of our little outreach among the cornfields of Western Illinois?

From countless stages, art and media tents, seminars, sporting events, the beach, the ponds, frenzied raves, bonfires, and continuing discussions long into the nights to the gathering of alternative and yes, even mix of more mid-stream adult and youth groups from all over North America and many foreign countries this singular event has shaped a great many people. We’ve dealt with issues of racism, gender equality, ethnicity, church sectarianism and cultural prejudices -often the monsters we perhaps unknowingly feed- even among people of faith.

Every sort of theology, doctrine, methodology and cultural experience has likely been covered in seminars and chats around camps throughout the property.

Worship sets, multiple music styles and nearly any sort of performance art you’d care to consider has been experienced at the Fest.

Through it all Jesus was, is and shall always be “the chief Cornerstone”.

Our shared worship of Him, playing together, music and other arts, childrens programs, the teachers, prayers and deeply joyous times spent with new-found and over time, annual gathering of friends at the Fest can and must be celebrated!

Baptisms, confessions, reconciliations, choices in a truly God-ward direction, all of these are wrapped up in deep and in many cases, eternal friendships with Father, Son, Spirit and our neighbors have been experienced in Fulton County. We’ve  laughed, cried and learned so much from one another at this annual gathering.

Sadness? Of course. How could there not be? “All change is perceived as loss” and indeed as ensuing Fourth of July weekends come around we’ll remember and likely feel a certain pang of something dear that has gone from us.

Love is like that.

Authentic koinonia (“fellowship”) IS like that.

At JPUSA, here in Chicago’s inner city we are in the midst of a huge re-modeling project. Our “Wilson Abbey” building will house so many ministries- and in many ways the music, drama, art, seminars, recording work and eventual web offerings of podcasts and vidcasts will offer a new array of what we hope will be grace-filled, effective communication and experiences for more people both local and world-wide.

Cornerstone Festival has been staffed by wonderful, hard-working creative people who will now channel their gifts and talents into fresh areas of ministry.

Cornerstone Farm may or may not be a place of extended ministry to any number of people in any number of ways. We have and shall continue to pray, dream and seek God’s will and call as to our stewardship of our resources.

Economics have played into all of these decisions- but there is something about truly seeking God’s desires- best as we are able to discern them, and to move forward with our hands on the plow He confirms.

As always, it’s about Jesus and friendships with people in need of loving friends who can empathize and share at least some of life’s journey together.

What an amazing, wonderful, memory-filled journey of love Cornerstone Festival has been for me and so many reading this!

I thank God for the countless hours of prayer, work, creative offerings and genuine grace I and so many have experienced through Henry, John and the extended staff as well as years of volunteer staff on site!

Certainly part of our legacy are the many festivals around the world that have learned and taken elements from Cstone, making them part of their festivals- just as we did from our tours as Resurrection Band, applying what seemed best and most fitting for Cornerstone.

Let me finish with a comment an older hippie (Ha, like myself) once made tearfully as he and his family were packing up after one of the first Cstone Fests up at the Fairgrounds in Grayslake, IL.

Crying, he said “Glenn… why did you do this to us?! WHY? How could we be so blessed this week, learn as much as we have and experienced community this intensely only to have to go back home and suffer depression over our daily lives and sometimes rather distant church-people existence? Why do we have to leave? Why does it have to end?! Look what you’ve done to us!!”

His words and sincerity startled me. I told him I understood, to pray for and not be so hard on his local church, and to be patient with them, to respectfully share what he and his family had learned through the week and to be an example of love and acceptance rather than division and petty judgment. Then I began to cry and as we hugged one another I told him what I’ll repeat now:

The best of Cornerstone has been Jesus and people. The deep friendships of Christ-followers produced by the Holy Spirit are eternal. Absolutely eternal. This is just a taste, and truly not the end, for the koinonia we have shared here will only intensify before God’s throne.

When we gather there, for us- eternity begins!

With Love,
Glenn Kaiser
JPUSA
Cornerstone Festival
July, 2012

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18 thoughts on “CORNERSTONE FESTIVAL

  1. Glenn- I confess that it’s been years since I attended, but man, what fond memories. From camping at Greyslake, helping with carpentry, and eventually playing the fest (even mixed 4 or 5 front of house gigs, too), my fondest memories are your "Music, Musicians, and Ministry" seminars, especially when you had as guest speaker Dr. Harold Best from Wheaton. Thank you so much for bringing the Word and for being used by God as a means for the Spirit to bring conviction and encouragement.Warmly-Tim Bushong

  2. Glenn…well said. So many memories, going back to the early days up in Grayslake. Time for one chapter to close and for God to open up a new one in the story of JPUSA. Love you guys.

  3. This may sound stupid Glenn, but I often thought while at the fest; "if I could just stay here, I’d never sin again!" lolThere has always been a pang in my heart upon leaving the fest and making the trip back home, this year challenges the adage; "the first cut is the deepest!"

  4. Thank you, Glenn. I remember the heartache when the mag ended and I feel that same ache now. My ache is for home, for community that I’m missing in my wonderful church of 20,000 people, am deeply involved and active, serve as a deacon with my husband … but it’s not home. I hope we make it back there, not just to the fest but to my real (outside of heaven) home …

  5. Glen,I was saddened when i learnt that this was the last Cornerstone Festival, My husband and myself have so many fond memorys of the fest! and of your seminars and music, Meeting friends u dont see from one year to the next, a great big reunion of brothers and sisters in the Lord, it was great!!!! When we come and stay with you guys at JPUSA, you are our family in Christ and we are sad when we have to leave,but we take away many fond memorys with us back to England,and tell our friends about your Ministries and your outreach to the homeless,We here in England do Community, and outreach to the homless,and Festivals so we have many things in common! Glen,may the Lord Bless You Greatly in your next big Adventure ,Wilson Abbey!!! Keith & Lynn

  6. I was at the first C-stone north of Chicago. I may have to make it to this one to see and celebrate the passing of an era.Tim

  7. "web offerings of podcasts and vidcasts will offer a new array of what we hope will be grace-filled, effective communication and experiences for more people both local and world-wide. " WOW that really excites me to be able to forward something the JPUSA’s have done! I am forever grateful and indebted for the years we attended

  8. This has been the #1 topic of conversation with all of my friends for the last 2 days. I’ve been going to the fest every year since 88 (I was 17). I’ve brought my own kids for the last 15 years, and I’ve had 2 of my friends from here in Ohio marry girls from Bushnell. The news devastated me, but the writing has been on the wall. I???ve seen the fest take a turn in the last 5-7 years as they???ve expanded the number of stages and the number of bands. It seems they have tried to be all things to all people and that direction has hurt the sense of community. I???m not saying ???it was better in the old days???, but when there were only 3 or 4 stages, every concert was an event. Even the new band showcase was a big deal when some friends of mine played in 1989 and I played in 1990. I doubt there were 10 people at the fest who knew who we were, but we packed that building at Gray’s Lake. It was the only stage running and everybody went to see what was happening. The same is true for mainstage. It used to be the only thing happening and everybody went. Now there are 15 other stages running while mainstage is going and the audience is diluted. It was even worse when they moved mainstage last year. People could pop in, take a sample or what was happening, then drift off to some other tent to see what was going on there. You don???t get the sense that it???s an event anymore and you don???t feel like you are sharing something with everyone. I know my kids consume music differently than we did, but I think the fest could still have that type of community. I assume the reasons they are stopping are mostly financial, but it seems to me a re-tooling could make it more economically sound. I hope they take a year or 2 off, then think about coming back with a new (old) model.

  9. Dear Glenn, I hope Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom before July of 2013 so I don’t have to experience that 4th of July weekend without my Cornerstone festival. It has been the high point of my year for 20 years, and like many others, I first brought my kids to the fest, and when they "outgrew" it, I kept coming and making many friends from all over the country. It reminds me of what I have learned of the Passover feasts of old Isreal when a million people from all over would travel to Jerusalem for a whole week of fellowship and celebrating God’s love. I am so sad to think that it is over.

  10. My first c-stone was ’86. My last was ’93. I started getting c-stone mags in the mid ’70s. I used to get a small bulk sub. of c-stone mags to pass around. I visited JPUSA for two cold weeks in ’87. I’ve kept up with the websites all this time to see whats going on up in Chicago. You’ve always been in my thoughts and prayers. I know that you are still following the Holy Spirit. The end of the fest is just the beginning of a new chapter. The Holy Spirit used the fest to inspire and re-inspire so many people, myself included. He will continue to lead you in ministry. As much as so many of us loved and have fond memories of the fest, the leading of the Spirit is the important thing. God bless you all!!!Continue in His love and grace!

  11. I don’t remember the year, but as my son and I waited in the dust bowl at Cornerstone for Glenn and the band to take the stage I leaned over to my son and said, "Wouldn’t it be awesome if they’d play LAMENT straight through, start to finish?" minutes later, Glenn took the stage and basically apologized to the old fans because they were going to play LAMENT straight through, start to finish. I was blown away. It was spot on and the musical highlight of all the Cornerstones that I’ve been to over the years. Thanks, Glenn!

  12. I have been blessed with your ministry, REZ Band and Cornerstone since 1990 when our guys, Sacred Warrior played. You have helped many come to the Lord, grow in their faith and start their ministries. God bless you as you continue to focus on ZHZim and His direction in your life.

  13. Ive gone to Cornerstone for 8 years in a row, this will be my 9th. since i was 15 years old. Cornerstone has been one of the most important and influential pieces of my life. i would not be who i am today if not for the ministry and music of yourself, your wife and the rest of Rez Band, your daughter and the Unfortunate, The Crossing, Maron, Brother Red Squirrel, the rest of JPUSA, and Flatfoot 56. You have all gotten me through some very tough times in my life and i will miss you all. there are simply not enough words in the english language to say how much Cornerstone has meant to me and so many people i know. i have made so many new and close friends because of this festival and i know first hand the work that God has done through this festival. I cant wait to be next to your stage again watching you play masterfully during your blues jam. see you in a month!

  14. This was a hard piece of news, Dean and I were married at Cornerstone 2010, and planned on celebrating our anniversary there every year! We feel blessed that Cornerstone has been a part of our lives! Since Dean’s accident last fall, we have had some adjustments and setbacks, but through them all, we have been planning and trying to figure out how we can get there this year. We thought we might just have to wait until next year, but have decided we have to be there for the last one. With that said, we are trying (still) to figure out the how and sadly the "day", as we are most likely only going to be able to do one day. Glenn…..it is a MUST that we come and see you, you have been such an incredible blessing to us. We have been checking the schedule everyday and so far only see you on Monday….any chance you will be preforming on Friday night or Saturday night as well?

  15. I’m an atheist and I went to Cornerstone 2003 to see Steve Taylor and then went back in 2004 to see Over the Rhine, Bill Mallonnee, Ric Hordinski, and some others. I’m bummed to hear the news. It was a nice little event you had there.

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