Southern Ireland has a new Christian music festival IN:FUSION. Tony Cummings reports.

Drewstone House
Drewstone House

Cross Rhythms is this year expanding its involvement with music and ministry festivals by working alongside Southern Ireland's ln:fusion Festival. The event will be held at Drewstown House, County Meath on 10th to 12th September. To get the lowdown of the event we spoke to David Faulkner, chairman of ln:fusion.

Tony: Can you give a brief history of Imfusion?
David: "The vision for ln:fusion came from the death of Paul Stephens. Paul was the brother of Graham and Nigel Stephens, who, together with some of their close circle of friends, instigated the first ln:fusion as a memorial to Paul principally because Paul had loved music, loved young people and would have had a similar vision himself for a festival to celebrate the Lord through the arts and music. It started three years ago and attendance has varied from 200 to 300."

Tony: What is the spiritual vision behind the festival?
David: "To see the Church in Ireland come to a fresh revelation as to what God is doing and saying to his people, to bring a fresh new way to praise the Lord through our Irish artists who also need our encouragement. The festival could be used as a means to bring friends and neighbours to the Lord."

Tony: How did you come to link up with Cross Rhythms?
David: "Tom Murtagh, who has been one of the visionaries behind music festivals in the south of Ireland, first contacted Cross Rhythms with a view to inviting them on board ln:fusion. Last year Jon Bellamy and Chris Cole were in Ireland for the UCB all Ireland conference and came down to ln:fusion for a meeting with the team. There was a tremendous unity of vision and knitting of hearts in that time we spent together, consolidating further our hope to see a festival in the south of Ireland."

Tony: What artists will be appearing at the 1999 festival?
David: "As yet we have not confirmed any of the artists but we have approached several Irish artists from both sides of the boarder as well as Matt Redman and Fruit in England, we will be giving notification of the bill as soon as we have confirmations."

Tony: How has working in a predominantly Roman Catholic country affected what you are doing? What links have you so far forged with the RC church?
David: "The culture of CCM has predominantly come from the Protestant side of the Church, a fact that was acknowledged by the Catholic Youth Council at a recent meeting that a number of the team attended. The Catholic Youth Council was represented by two of its staff members at last year's festival and we have endeavoured to keep them informed of all our activities on an ongoing basis."

Tony: How is the CCM scene developing in the Republic of Ireland? Who are the major artists?
David: "The longest established band nationally and internationally from Republic of Ireland is Emmaus, with Maire Brennan (of Clannad fame) being the best known international solo artist with her current album 'Perfect Time' having featured high on the charts both here and in the States. Oranges At Half Time and Joseph have been steadily ploughing a furrow over the last number of years and Joseph through his valiant efforts has just produced the first ever Irish artists compilation album."

Tony: What battles have you had in establishing ln:fusion as a festival?
David: "A major obstacle would be a fear of the arts being considered 'worldly' by some churches and an indifference, but these are no different to the challenges in most countries. Also, the CCM scene in the south of Ireland is in its absolute infancy but this is now beginning to change as the awareness of top quality music is growing and we have had some of the top Christian artists tour this country in the last two years."

Tony: On a personal level, what for you have been the highlights so far of past ln:fusion festivals?
David: "For me the highlight of ln:fusion festival last year was to see young people finding freedom and joy in expression of worship and having sheer good fun in a totally safe environment. To see their non-Christian friends come and find the Lord."

Tony: What is the organising structure? Is there a committee? Are local churches represented?
David: "There is a committee of 10 people representing members from most denominations."

Tony: Now that you have made this link with Cross Rhythms, what are your hopes and dreams for ln:fusion for future years?
David: "This has been a major boost for our vision. Their love, prayers and fellowship have been a major encouragement and their expertise in all aspects of festival organisation will be invaluable as we 'grow' the festival. The feeling of partnership is now very tangible and our visit as a team to UCB has been one of the highlights for the committee. The vision is to grow the festival to be an established part of the life of the Church in Ireland and to draw in people from the North, South and across the water. To be forging ahead in the encouragement of Irish artists as well as international artists, to explore new avenues in worship, evangelism, prayer, teaching." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.