The Blue Plum Revival crowd participates in Steven James' storytelling presentation. (Kayla Carter/Johnson City Press)
With part of downtown Johnson City still closed off for the Blue Plum Festival’s third day Sunday, some downtown churches realized how difficult it might be for members to make it to their service.
East Ridge, First Presbyterian, Central Baptist, Redeemer and Sojourn churches all decided to overcome that obstacle by joining together for the first Blue Plum Revival.
“We found a way to make it happen,” said Bill Jolley, Blue Plum Revival coordinator and pastor at Sojourn church.
Jose Castillo’s church decided to make the Blue Plum Revival its June 9 service. He said he was overjoyed to spend the day outside with his family.
“It’s really a great experience,” Castillo said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
A revival, Castillo said, to him means building a sense of community.
“I’m a big believer in a strong community and I’m excited to see churches come together and say, ‘We are all going to worship together as a community.’ I think that helps build up our city. It’s something I would like to see more of.”
The event included storytellers, poetry, live music, personal testimony and sharing of the Gospel. The Trinity Arts Center, Bethel Christian Church and Vineyard of Yahweh also helped organize the event.
“The Blue Plum Revival is several churches in the area, mostly downtown, coming together,” Jolley said. “There’s music from lots of great bands, storytelling, spoken-word poetry and we also have people sharing their life stories about how Jesus Christ has changed their lives.”
As an avid local performer and musician, Chris Mitchell, guitarist for Kick.Snare.Crash, said the event’s first run was smooth.
“It’s very organized and that’s the nicest thing in the world for a band,” Mitchell said. “The sound is excellent. Bill Jolley has put it together really well.”
The revival is a great addition to Blue Plum activities on its third day, Mitchell said.
“I think it’s a really good idea to do something to stretch Blue Plum into a third day,” Mitchell said. “This is the perfect way to do it.”
Mitchell said the band, which has now played two shows total, played at the revival to have fun and share their music with a crowd of like-minded people.
“We each have our personal beliefs, which fall in line with the Blue Plum Revival’s theme,” Mitchell said. “We just do things a little differently than a ‘worship’ band.”
Jolley said the revival had a unique appeal because it embraced diversity in entertainment choices.
Matt Sanders, Jamin and the CWB and The Ricky Hilton Project were among the musicians set to play for the revival, while author and storyteller Steven James invited the crowd to act out a story about God’s teachings.
Jolley said one of the most important elements of the revival is the sharing of stories, especially the Bible’s stories.
Local pastors assisted in sharing the Gospel, he said.
“We’ve asked several local pastors to share the Gospel — the basic message of how Jesus has rescued humanity,” Jolley said.
“If they invite us back,” Jolley said, he hopes to make the event an annual part of the festival.
But for now, Jolley hopes the first Blue Plum Revival intensified the presence of the Lord in a few people’s lives Sunday.
“When I was 17 years old, I came to an event because the music drew me in,” Jolley said. “I met God there and it changed everything in my life. I hope people who maybe just came for a great festival will have experienced something even greater.”