“There’ll be something for everybody,” said Kevin Anderson, a worship leader and media director at Parker Memorial. “It’ll be a relaxing time with good music, comedy, patriotic music and Celtic music.”
Parker Fest 2013 is a four-day community outreach event that will feature Christian performers from around the country. Most of the events are free, all are family-friendly and the entire community is invited to attend.
On June 27, the church will host Christian comedian Justin Fennell for a free performance at 7 p.m. in the Parker Memorial Christian Life Center. Fennell is a 25-year veteran of the comedy scene and the founder of the Christian Comedy Association, which he said is the largest network of comedians in the world.
“I think they’re going to laugh a lot,” Fennell said. “It doesn’t have to be filthy to be funny.”
Instead of dirty jokes, Fennell said his act will focus primarily on family and everyday life and will include yarn-spinning stories, props, audience participation, funny music and stand-up comedy.
But Fennell’s act is more than entertainment — he uses comedy to connect with people who might not have a religious background.
“We believe in the craft and communication (of comedy) to draw people closer to the cross,” Fennell said. “It’s not a sermon. It speaks in a language they already know.”
Fennell added he hopes his act will encourage people to turn to God, although he knows it’s a decision most people need time to think about.
“Maybe they don’t get saved that night,” he said. “But it moves them closer to discussion and decision making.”
On Friday, Parker Fest moves to Anniston High School for a solo acoustic concert featuring Christian rock group Newsboys founder and former frontman Peter Furler. General admission tickets for the event are $10. Artist Circle tickets are $20. Both can be purchased in the Parker Memorial church office or at www.itickets.com. Tickets at the door are $15.
“The big draw is Peter Furler,” Anderson said. “He’s well-known with the Newsboys. We’re getting him to Anniston and it’s kind of a neat thing.”
Saturday at 7 p.m., Orlando-based Celtic violinist Lori Jean Smith will perform a free concert at Parker Memorial with her band, a keyboardist and a percussionist. Smith says she plays music from the soul for the soul.
“I’m very excited about coming,” she said. “I think people will leave with a sense of the presence of God.”
Smith said the audience can expect to enjoy the energy of Celtic music, which she connected with the style of riverdance. In addition to playing music, Smith will also tell personal stories with the hope of connecting with the audience on an emotional level.
“It’ll be a lot of fun,” she said. “They can expect to laugh and maybe to cry.”
The final night of Parker Fest 2013, Sunday, will include a patriotic celebration at 7 p.m. in the Anniston High School auditorium. The “Celebrate America” patriotic concert will feature the Parker Memorial choir and orchestra.
The community is invited to attend all four events.
Parker Fest began in 2011 with a donated performance by Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated Christian singer Kari Jobe. The concert generated enough money and interest to propel the church into its second year of summer community outreach events, Parker Fest 2012, which featured Christian rock band Building 429. The money from that event helped to fund and expand the program for Parker Fest 2013.
“One person’s generosity has allowed us to reach the community,” Anderson said.
PARKER FEST 2013 Line-up
Comedian Justin Fennell, 7 p.m., Parker Memorial Christian Life Center
Peter Furler Concert, Anniston High School, $10-$20. Tickets available at Parker Memorial office and www.itickets.com
Lori Jean Smith, violinist, 7 p.m., Parker Memorial Church
Celebrate America-patriotic concert with Parker Memorial choir and orchestra, 7 p.m., Anniston High school auditorium