By Sarah Whitman
Christian recording artists Jeremy Camp and Colton Dixon are among those scheduled to perform at Family Faith Fest, a free event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
The Diocese, established June 17, 1968, includes 74 parishes, six missions, 48 schools and childhood centers, a university and additional ministries within Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
All are invited to celebrate on Oct. 27 at the Florida State Fairgrounds Tampa. The festival will include everything from inflatables and games to a late-afternoon Mass. Concerts and activities will begin at 10 a.m.
Additional performers include Ivan Diaz, Sarah Hart and speaker Vallimar Jansen, who will lead a Bible-story telling event for families. Dance groups and choirs will appear throughout the day. Tampa Bay Lighting and Rowdies athletes will also attend.
More than 150 volunteers, sponsors and individual donors helped make the free event possible.
“It was important to Bishop Gregory Parkes that Family Faith Fest be accessible to all families, regardless of their financial situation,” organizer Teresa Peterson said. “It’s our gift to the community because we want people to feel welcome. The Diocese is part of and has been blessed by the generosity and love of this community. Everyone is invited to join us as we remember the past with gratitude, celebrate the present with joy and look to the future with hope.”
John Morris, general manager for event sponsor Spirit FM, scheduled acts Camp and Dixon.
“He was on the lookout for Christian artists who are popular and put on a great show,” Peterson said. “He also talked to people in the community about who they wanted to hear and booked a line-up from there.”
One name that stood out was Dixon, who placed seventh on the 2012 season of American Idol, and is known for rock-concert style Christian worship tracks.
Since Idol, Dixon has released three albums, including 2017's Identity and the 2013 Dove Award winning debut A Messenger.
I spoke to the singer, 27, about his career and performing at Family Faith Fest.
Family Faith Fest is an anniversary event for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Are you Catholic?
I’m actually not Catholic. I grew up Southern Baptist and am now non-denominational. We perform at different outreach events and really, regardless of denomination, we love any opportunity to share the music, love on people and talk about Jesus.
Since your success following American Idol, how would you describe the evolution of Christian music?
I am a huge fan of Christian music. I grew up listening to it and now to be on stage, to really be a part of it, it’s crazy. It’s interesting to see how the dynamics of Christian radio change.
There are fewer story songs and more worship music on the radio now. People want music to worship more than just Christian entertainment. I feel called to reach people outside the church so it can be a hard line to navigate sometimes.
How do you feel about crossing over into mainstream radio? Is it a goal for you?
For some people it is a goal to crossover. I am really leaving that up to God. I write about what is important to me. I write about my faith and how that applies to my life. With my next record, I am definitely going to try to reach more people outside the church. We saw a lot of that coming off American Idol where we would be performing and people who didn’t necessarily believe came because they liked the music. I want to share what’s on my heart and give people hope.
You have a large millennial fan-base. What role do you think Christian music plays in bringing young people to and back to church?
Music in its simplest form is a tool that can be used in positive ways. It can encourage young people and help them get back on track. It’s about giving them confidence in who they are and whose they are. God looks at us like we are His kids. We are kings and queens in His eyes. I want my music to help young people understand that.
Cornerstone Community Church, 8431 Corporate Way, New Port Richey, invites families to a Pumpkin Trunkin Festival from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31. The event will include games, bounce houses and candy. For more information, visit www.cornerstonepasco.org or call (727) 849-4800.
Generations Christian Church, 1540 Little Road, invites the public to Trinity Fest, a weekend of events Oct. 26 through 28. There will be a midway carnival, food trucks and music from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26 and noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 27. A community business expo will take place from noon to 4 p.m. and a family fun day featuring games and other activities from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 27. The carnival continues from 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 28, with music from 2 to 9:30 p.m. Christian Band I Am They will perform at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 28. For a full line up of events, visit http://www.generationscc.com/trinityfest.
Faith United Methodist Church, 12128 State Road 52, invites the public to its pumpkin patch from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31. The church will host Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 27 and a Trunk-or Treat from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 28. For more information, call (727) 856-5000.
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 8320 Old County Road 54, will host its fall festival Nov. 2-4. The event will include entertainment, inflatables, carnival games, raffles and food trucks. Hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 3 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 4. For more information, visit STAFallFestival.com.