“There is some confusion,” says organizer Regis Andrews about Juneau Fest 2012, the six-night event taking place this week at Centennial Hall.
But it’s been perpetuated by the organizers themselves.
Since Juneau Fest posters went up around town a couple weeks ago, Juneau residents have been asking questions about it. Billed as a giveaway, fliers list more than $25,000 in sporting goods and recreation passes, electronics, toys, household items and gift cards, even cash, to be given as gifts and prizes to those who attend the nightly 7 p.m. event.
As KTOO reported last week, a number of Juneau businesses were asked to donate prizes, without being told the event is in part, a religious revival meeting.
Andrews and his wife Jody McLeod Andrews are members of the advance team from Revival Ministries International of Tampa, Florida. They were to appear on KTOO’s arts and event program Juneau Afternoon on Friday. After hearing that we had a story about Juneau Fest on Morning Edition that day, they asked Evangelist Eric Gonyon to call into the program from Tampa.
He told News Director Rosemarie Alexander there are actually two events each day this week, and the one in the morning is called the Great Awakening.
“You know it’s a church event; it’s where pastors and leaders come together in the morning,” Gonyon said.
They will hear from evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne of Revival Ministries. The event has not been advertised.
“The evening event, which is called Juneau Fest, is about the spirit of Christmas and about giving,” Gonyon said. “We personally have purchased thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts and prizes and it’s about keeping Christ in Christmas.”
But the words “keeping Christ in Christmas” did not appear in the advertising until late last week, after many questions to local Pastor Sam Dalin, of the River of Glory Church, and to the Tampa ministry.
Gonyon said Juneau Fest advertising did change last week, but said it was typical to modify an advertising message close to an event. Indeed, sometime on Friday, someone taped a Juneau Fest leaflet to my front door, which stated “Keeping Christ in Christmas,” and “God Bless America.”
During the interview, Gonyon – like others KTOO has interviewed about Juneau Fest – never answered why they hid the purpose of the event.
“I’d just like to ask one more time, why not put that wonderful message ‘Christ in Christmas’ on the poster and on the radio and out in the open so that people who are donating and people who think they would like to come to this, know exactly what it is?”
Gonyon said the Christmas message will be told during Juneau Fest, “but it’s not going to be anything like a church event.”
Gonyon never described what each Juneau Fest evening will be like. He apologized to businesses that were not told what type of event they were contributing to, and said Revival Ministries International has purchased most of the giveaways.
“Where does the money come from for your ministry?” I asked.
“From donations, donations from people through our ministry and around the world,” Gonyon said.
Gonyon reiterated that Juneau Fest is free to those who attend, but they will be asked to register.
He says Revival Ministries has poured thousands and thousands of dollars into Juneau’s economy and is here to be a blessing to a community that is hurting.
“Can you imagine, we could have picked any city. Chaplin Sam, Pastor Sam is a good friend of the ministry. He told us of the needs in Juneau and what is happening, and he rented Centennial Hall out of his own money, out of his own ministry, and we said, ‘You know what, if you’re going to do this we want to come in and be a blessing.’”
Gonyon said most of the Great Awakening events staged across the country include a day of giveaways to a community. In Juneau’s case, it’s six nights.
Until mid-Friday afternoon, Revival.com listed Great Awakening Juneau with Drs. Rodney and Adonica Howard-Browne as Sunday through Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall. That listing is no longer apparent, but a search of the website brings up a statement explaining the Great Awakening Tour in Juneau. It now notes that Howard-Browne will be teaching at morning services.
It calls the evening event an indoor outreach with big giveaways. The website states that many people will be materially and spiritually blessed.