Over 500 people gathered for the second annual On Earth festival at St Francis College on Saturday, celebrating 2022’s Diocesan theme “Being Together: Embracing Joy” through the arts, music, spirituality and justice.
The packed festival program included sustainable farming workshops, an eclectic line-up of local and regional performers, guided meditation and labyrinth walks, a refugee art exhibition, talks and mini-lectures, storytelling and workshops for kids and Tesla test drives.
The event engaged hundreds of youth and young adults, who made up around half of the festival participants and volunteers.
Former church youth group member Carolyn Farago said that her festival highlight was listening to young On The Way podcast co-host and Coomera Anglican College Faith and Spirituality Coordinator Dom Fay reflect on his faith journey.
“One takeaway was his observation that we tend to fall into two groups – people who see life as something to be endured and those that see it as an adventure,” Ms Farago said.
“He made the interesting point that we say ‘that’s life’ when things go wrong, even though there are plenty of moments where unexpected good things happen, which are just as much part of life.”
Throughout the day people from the Anglican Church Southern Queensland (ACSQ) and the wider community ran workshops teaching festival goers practical skills, creative techniques and ancient knowledge.
These included Labyrinth walks, tips and tricks for living more sustainably, First Nations seeded jewellery making and a paint-your-own-plant-pot corner for kids, as well as the popular Baroona Farm wicking bed and composting workshops.
This year’s On Earth festival was held in conjunction with the St Francis College Open Day, with a variety of mini-lectures given in the Chapel of The Holy Spirit and the Roscoe Library building.
St Francis College Principal The Rev’d Dr Ruth Mathieson said she particularly enjoyed listening to the live music.
“It was great to see the bustle, activity and connecting happening in and around Old Bishopsbourne,” Dr Mathieson said.
“A highlight for me was, as the evening came, a chance to sit with a drink and listen to wonderful performers like Lydia Fairhall, who is a Worimi woman, singer-songwriter and St Francis College student.”
The festival was opened with an acknowledgement of Country given by Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owner and artist Lalania Tusa.
Ms Tusa said she was excited to return to the festival following her popular dot painting workshop last year.
“The highlight of this year’s On Earth festival for me was connecting with a diverse range of people from all walks of life,” Ms Tusa said.
Festival co-organiser Peter Branjerdporn from the ACSQ Justice Unit said his On Earth highlight was seeing the diversity of people.
“I loved seeing people who are different working together for the common good of all people, Mr Branjerdporn said.
“It made the day such a vibrant celebration of life – it was a glimpse of heaven on earth.
“That is what On Earth is all about – embracing joy by appreciating one another’s differences, and realising that the Body of Christ is made whole when we choose to be with and for one another.
“It makes all the hard work of so many volunteers, performers and facilitators worthwhile.
“I’d especially like to thank the St Francis College events organising committee members, Rod, Linda, Sheilagh, Eve, Bill, Ceri and Erica, for all of their efforts co-organising the festival.
“I think we have started a wonderful annual gathering and really hope it continues to grow as we expand and collaborate with more groups across the Church and wider communities.”
Festival justice stalls were also popular again this year, as stall holders spoke to festival participants about their advocacy work, with many signing up as volunteers and supporters.
Stall holders included Angligreen, the Roscoe Library, Thread Together, Common Grace, Baroona Farm, Tearfund Australia and the Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project, among many others.
Editor’s note: Did you attend On Earth? Please assist festival organisers by providing feedback via this online form – you could win a copy of the book Together We Can: Everyday Australians doing amazing things to give our planet a future by Claire O’Rourke.
Editor’s note 19/10/2022: Images updated.