Kingdom Bound Ministries' annual Kingdom Bound Festival marks its 25th anniversary this weekend.
"We are thrilled and thankful to be celebrating 25 years of proclaiming the Gospel through the arts," said Kingdom Bound Executive Director Donna M. Russo.
Kingdom Bound was an idea conceived in the hearts of two men: the late Fred Caserta, who had long been serving the community as a booking agent, and Mike Caputy, a local musician. In February 1986, they discovered their mutual belief in Jesus and their desire to serve him with their talents. They began to meet with area pastors for the purpose of using contemporary Christian music to spread the Gospel.
Shortly after these meetings began, they began a weekly radio program called "Power Supply," which aired until 1989.
One of the first efforts of their meetings was a concert featuring Sheila Walsh, Russ Taff and Mylon LeFevre. Following this concert, Kevin Ketcham, special events coordinator for Darien Lake Theme Park, attended one of the area pastor meetings and presented the idea of a Christian music day in the park. The idea blossomed into what is now the Kingdom Bound Festival.
The first Kingdom Bound took place in October 1987, on what should have been a beautiful autumn weekend. However, the temperature hovered around 39 degrees and a few snowflakes graced the stage. The music was great; the crowd of 6,000 had a wonderful time praising Jesus. But, after that first festival, the date was moved to August.
In recent years, the festival has annually attracted more than 40,000 people.
"(The) most rewarding part of running Kingdom Bound and seeing God's faithfulness to the ministry and vision (is) to hear how someone's life has been impacted or changed by a message they heard or a concert they attended during the festival," Russo said. "Ministries have been launched as a result of a vision being cast by one of the speakers. We know that there are many stories we will only hear in Heaven, but every time a person takes time to write us and share what God did for them at a festival, it reaffirms why we do this event."
The 25th anniversary festival boasts Kingdom Bound's biggest lineup to date, with Christian mega-headliners Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp and newsboys; newcomers Brit Nicole, Hello Kelly and newworldson; and speakers Jill Kelly, Reggie Dabbs, Bob Lenz and Wes Aarum, among others.
Throughout the Kingdom Bound weekend, a bevy of events take place each day throughout Darien Lake. For newcomers - and for festival veterans unsure which act to see - Russo recommends the following:
•Exhibit: The Kingdom Bound Justice Experience presented by Let Them LOL. "It will change your life," she said.
•Concert - "This is a tough call," Russo said. "If you are a veteran Kingdom Bounder, you will not want to miss Classic Petra, Rebecca St. James or the Kingdom Bound Rewind Band featuring Rick Cua (our current president), Will McFarlane, Margaret Becker, Phil Keaggy, Morgan Cryar, Michael Peace and more. If you are newer to Kingdom Bound, you definitely want to take in Casting Crowns, Skillet and Chris Tomlin."
•Event - "Enemy Opposition presenting extreme sports demos and testimonies is not to be missed," Russo said. "For 2011, we are bringing back the Sports Experience featuring soccer, basketball and flag football - also not to be missed."
As the Kingdom Bound Festival moves into its 26th year, "Presenting the Gospel through the arts with the purpose of seeing people come to Christ as well as encouraging believers continues to be the focus and mission of Kingdom Bound Ministries," Russo said.
For more information, visit www.kingdombound.org or call 1-800-461-4485.