SWC brings music, religion to Laguna Seca

Spirit West Coast has drawn thousands of Christian music fans to Monterey for the past 15 summers.

It’s time for Spirit West Coast, the popular Christian Music Festival that will be held at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area near Monterey Aug. 1-3. This is the 16th year for the event, which typically draws crowds of 20,000 visitors over the three days of its performances, making it “the most successful Christian music event in the (southern) West Coast region.” Besides music by top artists in the field of Christian music, the festival features Bible teachings by gifted speakers and other activities for all ages – supported by more than 900 volunteers who donate their time to provide security, concessions, ministry, traffic control, ushering and many other services required to meet the needs of such a large crowd.
The number of entertainers, performers and presenters is enormous, and eight stages host groups like these:
• Newsboys, an Australian quartet which has recorded 16 albums, six of them achieving gold status
• Audio Adrenaline, a sextet originating at Kentucky Christian University, which has won two Grammy awards and multiple Dove awards
• Moriah Peters, who was treated harshly in her auditions for American Idol because of her wholesome image
• Matthew West, a soloist who has been nominated for five Dove awards.
Many guest speakers will be addressing the audience, local ministers as well as such prominent speakers as:
• Reggie Dabbs, a motivational speaker who has addressed teens across the country
• Bob Lenz, author and international speaker who founded Life Productions, a nonprofit that instills hope in youth
• Al Menconi, an evangelist who specializes in drawing attention to the values communicated by contemporary entertainment.
Ministry, spreading the Christian message and supporting the faith of participants, is an important part of Spirit West Coast. This is accomplished by the spiritual messages of the music being performed and the Gospel messages preached and taught at various sessions throughout the day and night. Evangelism happens at “altar calls” or “decision times” when participants are given opportunities to publicly accept Jesus as their Savior; more than 10,000 people have made first time salvation decisions or rededications of their lives at previous festivals. Water baptism ceremonies are performed in a festive but spiritual atmosphere.
Another ministry opportunity is offered by Compassion International. Each year at SWC, attendees are asked to sponsor a child, which directly connects the sponsor with a little boy or girl in an underdeveloped nation. This monthly financial support “materially and spiritually changes their lives.” Almost 11,000 children have been helped through this program.
There are also prayer tents with counselors present, evangelism training sessions, new believers’ classes and various worship opportunities. Dozens of exhibitors set up displays to inform festival-goers about art, music, books and other merchandise available for purchase, as well as additional ministry groups.
Children are a major focus of this family-friendly festival, with many trained adults ministering to them through age-appropriate shows with singing, puppetry and juggling. A country fair atmosphere is created in Veggie Land, a special area on the festival grounds offering many fun kid activities like face painting, arts and crafts, clowns, train rides, bounce houses, balloon-tying, games, sports activities and a petting zoo.  
Spirit West Coast is sponsored by a nonprofit organization, Christian Music Today, dedicated to “presenting the gospel of Christ.” They present Christian music performances throughout the year at many different venues. For more information about Spirit West Coast, including admission and camping prices, call (831) 443-5399 or visit www.spiritwestcoast.org.
Chuck Flagg is a retired teacher with a passion for religion. Reach him at [email protected]

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