Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mon July 6, 2009
The Volunteers Behind Cornerstone
Bushnell, IL – Music lovers from all over the world descend on western Illinois every year for a week-long Christian music festival. Cornerstone draws thousands of people to the Bushnell area. Some are band members. Others are vendors. Most are attendees.
Out of the thousands, a few hundred are there for a different reason. Just as Apostle Paul was a servant to Jesus, Cornerstone has its own "servants."
Cornerstone Director John Herrin describes the event as "a rock and roll festival that meets Christianity." He says there is one important component at this festival that makes everything come together. That's the 400 people who volunteer for the event.
As you walk around the festival grounds some people are picking up trash, pointing people in the right direction, and manning the event tents.
Southern Illinois University professor Joan Davis is one of them. "We also have many volunteers who come 5, 10, or 15 years and love the jobs that they do," says Davis. "They come back here year after year."
Davis has been volunteering since 1991. She became the head of volunteers in 1996. Davis acknowledges the volunteer duties at Cornerstone are not always "glamorous." But, Davis feels regardless of their assigned "job" for the week, they still have fun.
Some of Cornerstone's volunteers do not help out with the actual event. They're here for other reasons. For example, the Bushnell Rotary Club set up a booth to provide festival-goers with information about Bushnell.
Erika Ingolia says the Rotary Club has been coming to the festival for 15 years. Ingolia enjoys telling the festival-goers about her home town. "It's just interesting getting to meet all of the people from all over the world," says Ingolia. "There are a lot of people this year from Great Britian."
Cornerstone Director John Herrin feels so many others volunteer, because they consider Cornerstone unique and they consider Cornerstone important.
There is more to Cornerstone than Music
One of the Speakers at Cornerstone Believes Science and Christianity do not have to be at odds. Over thirty speakers came to Cornerstone 2009. They spoke on topics ranging from the Emergence of Christianity to How To Maintain a Happy Marriage.
Daniel Harrell was one of the first speakers at the event. He was addressing the controversial topic of evolution and its place in Christianity.
Harrell is a minister at a church in Boston. He also holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Boston college and is the author of Natures Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith.
Harrell has spoken about his book to a number of churches and science organizations. His main focus is the integration of faith and evolution. He hopes if they can't buy Darwin's theory of evolution, they need not be scared of it.
Harrell says he first became interested in this topic while living in Boston. He found that the challenges between faith and science were just part of the daily conversation. "The book of nature and the book of scripture, which historically are both communicative of God's work in the world, should agree and not always be in conflict," Harrell says.
Harrell embraced the idea that you can be a devout Christian and believe in evolution. "There are plenty of Christians, devout Christians, who hold to the theory of evolution and see it as a display of God's handy work and that is not any way contradictory to what they hold as orthodox faith," says Harrell.
Harrell hopes that it won't be long before evolution is a widely accepted fact among Christians. He also acknowledged why he thinks some Christians have not accepted it. "We (Christians) haven't embraced it because it has been used by those who are anti-faith as ammunition to fight faith. I think the problem we as Christians have gotten in to is that we take aim at the ammunition rather than those who are holding the guns," Harrell says.
Harrell also had advice for Christians who still were not sure how they felt about accepting evolution. "Be open, keep reading, keep exploring, but don't be afraid of the conversation," says Harrell.