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Group works to host GraceFest

Believers from different churches work together to unify the faith community through music at Centra

Posted: May 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

A group of believers from more than one dozen churches worked together over the past year toward one common goal, hosting a large music event showcasing contemporary Christian music.

With months of hard work and collaboration the team was able to plan a Christian music event on a scale which has never occurred in Santa Clarita. On May 31, GraceFest SCV will be held for the first year at Central Park.

Fashioned similarly to Concerts in the Park, the event will feature a lineup of talented internationally recognized and local musicians, with a focal point on Christian music.

“The goal of event is to bring the believers of Santa Clarita together,” said Barry McKeever, event director. “To be able to have all believers, no matter what church you go to or what you do on Sunday, come together and worship God together.

McKeever had been hoping to put together a show of this type for many years. As a fan of Christian music, he traveled with his family to many different concerts and festivals over the years, but always dreamed of making it happen in Santa Clarita.

Last year, he heard about GraceFest AV put on in Lancaster which is in it’s seventh year and decided to pursue the idea for this valley. He quickly gathered a group of believers from many different churches who wanted to help.

With the help of the organizers of the Antelope Valley event, which has nearly 5,000 attendees every year, McKeever and the team quickly put together the structure of the show.

Sponsored by Kids Charities, the concert is also a nonprofit fundraising event. Proceeds will benefit the SCV Pregnancy Center, the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita and Trinity Classical Academy.

“This is not just a concert, it is a charitable event which we hope will bless the community,” said McKeever.

Organizers are excited about the opportunity to bring Christian music to many who may have not had a chance to experience it in this way before.

Stanton Rutledge, talent and stage coordinator, is excited that an event of this kind and scale will be held in Santa Clarita for the first time and that people from so many different churches are working together to make it happen.

“There is power in unity and doing things separate keeps churches stagnant,” said Rutledge. “This event brings churches and believers together.”

Headlining the event is Manafest and Building 429. Building 429 is a talented Grammy nominated Christian group, with the Billboard Magazine No. 1 rated song of 2012, “Where I Belong.”

Manafest is an international powerhouse in Christian hip-hop music, playing in nearly one dozen different countries. With multiple No. 1 hits he continues to wow audiences. His most recent record Fighter was produced by Adam Messinger, who is acclaimed for his work with Justin Bieber and Chris Brown.

Other groups performing include the local talents of Andy Gregory, Jim Gustin and Truth Jones, Imagine Tomorrow, Matter, John Stratton, and RockNacapella.

“I want to be a vessel that God can use to bring people into community and be a true family, regardless of denominations or where we come from,” said John Stratton, worship leader of Highlands Christian Fellowship and opening act for the show.

The all day event begins at 1 p.m. and features seven distinct musical acts from talented Christian musicians. The event will also feature a second stage for children’s entertainment, which will include musical acts and activities for kids, like face painting, bounce houses, crafts and more.

Other features include a meet and greet for headlining acts, a prayer tent and guest speakers. A food court will offer various barbecue foods for sale, along with several food trucks and refreshment items. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs.

“There are different churches and different styles, but the same belief,” said Rutledge. “Our focus is one city, one God, one people and on one day, we all get together and be unified in worshiping that one God.”



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