CROSS Rhythms festival, held annually in Okehampton, Devon, and the long established Crossfire festival, held in Liverpool, are to "twin". Plans have been announced for the two festivals to operate separately in 1995 under the name Cross Rhythms and to mutually resource each other so that the events, held within a week of each other in July can be, in the words of Cross Rhythms' Chris Cole, "a demonstration that there is unity in the body of Christ while improving the infrastructure to aid Christians in the arts and in ministry."

The plan will involve both festivals mutually supporting each other with shared practical resources and where possible, a shared roster of artists and speakers. Said Chris Cole, "This is an exciting development for it clearly shows that Christian ministries can endeavour to rise above any party spirit and competitiveness to work in unity to see the Kingdom Of God expressed through music and the other arts." Crossfire's chief executive Ken Eaves said, "Crossfire is in the business of the Kingdom Of God but it cannot be business as usual. We know this is the way forward."

Cross Rhythms '94 under the title 'Touching Glory' is set to break attendance records with bookings approximately 30 per cent up on last year's event. The three-day festival, which runs from Friday morning 8th July to Sunday teatime 10th July, is being held at its regular venue of Risdon Farm, Okehampton.

It will bring together an international gathering of musicians, speakers and artists. The most revolutionary aspect of the staging of Cross Rhythms '94 will be the doing away of the Mainstage/Big Top pattern which has dominated festival planning for the last three decades. Instead Cross Rhythms are having erected a scaffolding-supported 150 feet by 70 feet tent, a facility which will give unimpaired, covered viewing to 5,000 plus.

Another aspect of the planning for 'Touching Glory' is the full integration of preaching and worship ministries into the music programme. Chris Cole said, "We've felt for some time that Christian festivals can sometimes appear to unintentionally marginalise ministry, with rock bands holding sway mainstage and ministry going on in some small tent on the periphery. Cross Rhythms is attempting to address this dualism.

"So preaching and worship will be integrated into a programme next to rock, rave, a ceilidh, rap, in fact the whole gamut of what Christian music has to offer. There will be smaller tents at Cross Rhythms of course - there is a full seminar programme, an arts tent with visual arts and poetry, children's work, and the Tony Fitzgerald team will be on site the entire weekend ministering.

"But by challenging the hierarchical 'Mainstage is more important than Big Top' thinking and bringing preaching, prayer and worship right into the heart of the festival I think we'll be saying what we feel about integrating all of human experience without those unhelpful religious 'ministry' and 'entertainment' divisions," he added.

The scheduled programme for Cross Rhythms 'Touching Glory' as we go to press is:-
Friday: Dr Tony Campolo; a ceilidh with Mike Stanley's Shenanigans, Shelter, Nuffsed and Eve And The Garden; Crucifer; Paul Poulton Band; Sarah Prothero; Insight; Pity The Small Thumbs; Azimuth; the Tinglies; No Second Chance; Tony Fitzgerald; Salt Solution; the Electric Revival; Gethsemane Rose.

Saturday: Adrian Snell (with his musical 'Beautiful...Or What?'); Caroline Bonnett; Scott Blackwell; Dr Tony Campolo; DKF; Sal Solo; Nuffsed; After The Fall; Last Daze; HOG; Tony Fitzgerald; Jenny And Alex Legg.

Sunday: The Touching Glory Service with Tony Fitzgerald, DKF and guests; the Wades; Scott Blackwell; Last Daze.

There will also be a fully equipped Showcase Tent where bands and soloists for whom there isn't room on the main advertised programme will be offered an opportunity to perform. Said Showcase Co-ordinator Marie-Louise Flint, "We're absolutely inundated with artists wanting to come and play at Cross Rhythms.

"It seems that every musician who's been in the past has been so blessed they want to come back and there are so many newcomers who want to experience it for themselves! So we're saying to as many Christian musicians as possible 'if you want to come we'll try and find room for you to play'."

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.