Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 19, 2000
Rain and chill, bless the Lord
Hundreds brave inclement weather to celebrate jubilee at J2K Festival
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
A steady rain and cold failed to deter hundreds of people who came to downtown Edmonton on Pentecost to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus' birth.
"Any weather is good to celebrate the Lord," said Elizabeth Liaw, a member of Victory Church on the Rock. "There's been really good music and dancing. This should become an annual event."
"We don't mind the rain," Liaw said as she watched a performance with sister Melinda and boyfriend James Chen.
Bria Scott, 16, and friend Kevin Morningstar, 15, both non-denominational Christians, also braved the weather.
"The rain didn't dampen our spirits; we've been here since 2 o'clock," Scott said near the end of the seven-hour festival. "It's fantastic to see so many people come to praise the Lord."
The J2K Festival, which ran from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 11, was organized by about 16 Christian churches at a cost of $25,000 to mark the jubilee.
The themes of thanksgiving, hope, renewal and joy shaped and focused the performances and activities throughout the festival, which featured a mix of dance, drama, choral and instrumental music from more than 30 Christian performance groups. More than 250 volunteers donated their time to the event.
"We were rained on but we weren't rained out," said organizer Cathy Harvey. "People still came. They wanted to honour Jesus and they did."
Only the street performers and a couple of bands pulled out due to the rain.
By early afternoon the downpour forced people to seek shelter in the various tents that featured a place for prayer, crafts and cake.
Hundreds of others crowded into City Hall to escape the rain and enjoy an afternoon of entertainment that included performances by contemporary Christian singers Steve Bell and Linnea Good, the Jubilee Ensemble Dancers and the upbeat tunes of Arlen Salte and his New Creation Ministries.
Linda Knapczuk, a member of Abundant Life Church, an evangelical congregation in Millwoods, attended the festival with her granddaughter Destiny, 5.
"I'm here because I love Jesus Christ," Knapczuk said. "I like to celebrate with other Christians."
Roman Catholic Maria Feist was also impressed with the celebration. "I'm amazed at the work that has gone on here," she said. "I think it's wonderful to celebrate Christ 2,000 years later."
Some organizers estimated about 2,000 people turned up at the millennial celebration but Harvey said the number was hard to gauge because people came and went all day. She said she received so much positive feedback that churches may consider making the festival an annual event.