Where Did the Agape Go?
“Agape.” What a strange word. Is it . . . Greek? Yeah, it’s one of those Greek words for love that everyone on campus is always talking about. It’s the one that means “unconditional,” or “godly” love. “Agape” is the Greek word for “love” and has been used to describe God’s love for the world. So, what on earth is this Agapefest that is being whispered about around campus? Some sort of love fest? An . . . unconditional love fest? A God fest?
Agapefest was a student run Christian music festival held here in Greenville, Illinois that was put on by the students of Greenville College.
Danara Moore, a former faculty advisor for the event, described the festival as created “by Greenville College students and run by Greenville College students.” Dr. Norman Hall, who was instrumental in ensuring that the two-day festival was student driven, called the event the “Christian alternative to rock-n-roll in the sun.”
The line-up held a number of Christian artists and groups, such as Toby Mac, Switchfoot, Lecrae, Owl City, and Skillet. Reportedly, there were as many as 6,000 fans in attendance some years, and as much as $50,000 was earned. Sometimes, however, $50,000 was lost. Thus, trouble began for the music festival. Founded in 1977, the Christian festival ran for 36 years before stopping in 2013. The festival simply was not sustainable. Moore elaborated on this idea. “The revenue needed to sustain this level of festival and do it well was not being generated.” Then asked if there were could be plans for another festival, or one like it, Moore commented that “the smaller shows (Noah Gundersen and Propaganda) under the Agape Presents brand did successfully pay for themselves, but to revive the festival, it would need to be considered a marketing cost- essentially no revenue expected in return.”
Hall expounded on this idea. With bad weather, such as freezing rain, stopping festival goers from participating and competing concerts drawing bigger crowds, Agapefest could not endure. There were initial plans for smaller shows on campus, but eventually those fell through. But Dr. Hall believes that smaller music events are still possible. Dr. Hall “saw value in [the festival] and hopes that a version continues.” He even went as far as suggesting beginning with a Scott Field event; after all, Agape was a draw for many students when choosing where to continue to pursue their education.
Agapefest was a way for potential students to interact with Greenville College, as well as a way for current Greenville students to engage with their school and surrounding community. Agapefest held importance and significance for Greenville College. Although it’s time has ended, it has paved the way by showing what Greenville students can accomplish when they work together. It has also paved the way for many more smaller events scattered around the school year, providing more opportunities for people to join in the love.
Watch the preview video from the last Agape Fest below.