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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — A handful of musical groups combined with local speakers on the opening night of Jesus Fest in downtown Clarksburg Friday evening.
After missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15th annual event drew people to Jackson Square to listen to music and testimony or visit church booths and food trucks.
Free Indeed frontman Adam Cline said the six-member band was set to perform at last year’s event before it was canceled. Even though the musicians had attended Jesus Fest in 2019 and prior, Friday was the first time they performed at the event.
“This is an honor to get to do. We’re excited,” the singer/guitarist said. “We profess Jesus.”
The band regularly performs mostly original music at meetings of Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-Step recovery program, held Tuesdays at Living Word Church of God in Buckhannon.
The band members all met at similar meetings as they overcame addictions to drugs, alcohol and other destructive habits, Cline said.
Cline added he hopes members of the church and Celebrate Recovery attend the festival this weekend.
Following Free Indeed’s performance, testimony was given by Pastor Baron Claypool of Life Church of West Virginia.
“Jesus is the hope for all the world,” Claypool said. “That’s who He is, and this world can definitely use a little hope right now, especially because of everything people have been through over the past year and a half. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but Jesus is declared in Scripture as the same yesterday, today and forever. So regardless of what changes in our society or lives, the one constant that will never go away is Jesus.”
Life Church of West Virginia, which meets in the former Anmoore United Methodist Church, also was baptizing believers at the festival, and will do the same Saturday.
Clarksburg’s Yvonne Gump was staffing a booth representing the Celebrate Recovery group that meets at Clarksburg Baptist Church, where sessions are led by Clarksburg Mission Director Lou Ortenzio.
“God gave me a servant’s heart, so I’ve got to use it,” Gump said. “And every time they come into town, we’ve got to see The Shine Effect (a Christian rock band). Usually they are in town to perform at local Celebrate Recovery meetings, but they come to help with Jesus Fest’s sound system as well.
“We’ve had a booth every year, and it’s usually manned by me. It also allows me to be with other Christians and those of other religions.”
Gump said she’s also heard Seventh Day Slumber and Jonas Woods perform. Seventh Day Slumber will be the headlining band at Jesus Fest on Saturday, and Jonas Woods will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“This is an awesome event,” fellow booth volunteer Greg Loser said. “Wish we could’ve had it last year, but due to the pandemic, we had to keep everyone safe.”
Connie and John Belcastro of Bridgeport have come to Jesus Fest before but attended Friday with friends Sherry and Sam Spatafore, who are also from Bridgeport.
“We wanted to come and listen to the music and the preaching, as well as support and lift up the name of Jesus,” Connie Belcastro said.
The couple, who worship at Christian Assembly in Nutter Fort, recently attended the K-Love Fan Awards in Nashville to follow Christian music groups.
Michael Gallo, Jesus Fest board president, thanked all who attended Friday as he gave the opening prayer. Gallo said he looks forward to more visitors as the festival continues through Sunday.
Following an opening prayer at 1: 30 p.m. Saturday, at least 10 musical groups are set to perform and six individuals or groups are set to testify throughout the day.
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