Creation Festivals' Bill Darpino shared the heart behind the events culturally diverse style of music and ministry throughout the popular multi-day event.
Creation Festival, sometimes dubbed "Creation Fest" and held annually in central Pennsylvania, is one of the most attended Christian music events in America.
This year, it continues to defy stereotypes with music from people of all different backgrounds and musical styles. The event will be held June 26-29 with performances from artists such as rock band Skillet, worship artists Elevation Worship, Crowder, Hillsong Worship, Kari Jobe, Tenth Avenue North and rapper Andy Mineo.
"This is our 41st year, the goal really hasn't changed a whole lot. One of our themes of the festival is to bring tribute to our Creator," Darpino, vice president and producer of Creation Fest, told The Christian Post in a recent interview. "As a mission, we really try to keep it simple, where we really want to see this generation become a tribute to our Creator."
He explained the mission starts when people individually give their lives to Jesus Christ and then "the tribute continues when we live our lives, by that example that Jesus Christ gave us where He lived out love, humility, justice, and mercy."
Darpino shared that Jesus was completely abandoned to the will of God. He was not caught up with proving a point to anyone other than sharing the love of God.
"That's really our hope that people walk away from that week of being in community with other believers and that they're inspired to really go home and be a tribute to their Creator by living out those things. We really want to see lives changed and impacted," he said.
When specifically discussing why they choose to invite ministers from all different varieties and styles of music and ministry, Darpino explained that it's their way of reaching the next generation.
"One of the things that allow us, I think, to have a more diverse program is partly because it runs for a few days. It gives us the ability to have a little broader program where some other events and, potentially with a concert, you don't have that ability to create a real diverse, broad program and offer a lot of opportunities for those with many different great bands that are out there," Darpino revealed.
The VP shared that Creation Fest discovered that early on as a way to make sure everyone felt welcomed and included.
"Being in the northeast, we have a lot of great opportunities to pull in, not only the normal artists like Andy Mineo, and Skillet and Crowder and a lot of the normal CCM ones, but we also have a lot of great connections with some of our local and regional artists," he continued, even those that are unknown.
"There's a lot of great musicians out there in all the types of genres — rap, hip hop, rock, worship, CCM. You may not go to church, or you may not know what Creation is all about but hopefully, everyone can come together because of the diversity of the program, there's always something there for everyone. In that, it really creates a community throughout the week," Darpino added.
This four-day outdoor event which has had 2.1 million people attend the festival throughout the years, will feature the best in live music but also includes national speakers and entertainment in hopes to shift the current climate of social unrest. The focus is on raising up the next generation of believers to embrace music they love with a positive message.
"We love that the youth of this generation really resonate with those music styles. And it's important for us to really be able to connect and offer them the opportunity to enjoy what we do at the festival and kind of translate the gospel, at some level, through those different styles of music, which is so important. They say music is a universal language."
Darpino went on to say, "It's important that we are willing to explore, listen to other things and have those discussions."
"At the end of the day, we may not always agree or may not always like certain styles of music, but there's one thing we can always agree on, and that's the truth of the gospel, and the amazing forgiveness that we've been given to Jesus Christ."
Along with merging cultures and styles, the Creation Festival is also partnering with the pro-life nonprofit organization Save the Storks. The agency first went viral with a campaign titled, "Thousands of women have changed their mind on abortion after visiting a Stork Bus. Why so many?"
"We're excited this year to be able to really work together and help support their mission, especially this topic or this cause, it's been around for a while, but it's really starting to recently gain a lot of momentum in a lot of different areas," Darpino said of the organization.
"For us, it's really about life. Our Christian worldview is very much centered around life, and hope, and love, and compassion and that's true for everyone. It's very exciting to be able to support what they're doing, we love how they do it. It is really a message that's delivered in love and compassion, and hope, and how they work with local pregnancy care centers and supporting them at the local level, and really caring for mothers with how they provide these wonderful ultrasound buses," he said. "So really, our goal is that we want to help create awareness about their mission. We want to help create support for what they're doing, and continue to stand together united, in that hope, and goal that there is protection for life for everyone."
Since it's inception, the festival has seen 16,000 baptisms, 115,000 people have accepted Christ, with over 40,000 volunteers. The outdoor experience also offers keynote speakers, teaching sessions, all day seminars and a communion service.