Summer Madness, Irelands largest Christian festival, kicked off on July 2. Running from Friday to Tuesday, 3,000 youngsters are expected to attend the event in the coming few days, and will include both campers and day visitors. It takes place in Kings Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The purpose of the event is to strengthen young people in the Christian faith. Aiming at the 15 - 24 age group, most of the activities will focus on social issues and spiritual development together with a contemporary culture approach. While traditional churches are sometimes unable to reach young people in a comfortable way, the event provides a setting to convey the Christian message in ways that are better related to their experiences, needs and culture. Summer madness is supported by the Church Army, which contributes greatly in promoting the concept of Mission-shaped church to churches across the UK.
Summer Madness originated from the Church of Ireland Summer youth camp in July 1987. In 17 years, it has extended across the denominational spectrum, reaching to youths in the Church of Ireland, both the North and South. As the event expands in scale, it has become the joint effort of a number of Christian groups, such as the Church Mission Society, Tearfund, Christian Aid, Youth For Christ UK and so on. Each of the organizations has its corresponding hall, offering different kinds of programs.
Seminars looking at controversial topics such as homosexuality and the church, pornography, racism, eating disorders and the future of the church will be held from Saturday to Monday.
The focal points of the camp are the main worship and teaching meetings which take place twice a day. There is also a strong emphasis on the musical arts with a number of venues showcasing international and more local Christian bands throughout the day and into the early hours of the morning. Music styles include dance, rock, acoustic and jazz.
Summer Madness has drawn great attention from Christians in Ireland, probably because of its scale and amazing growth rate. In the very beginning, it was just a very typical summer youth camp of 250 people, in 3 years the numbers attending had risen to just over 1,500 and now it has become a nationwide event with 3,000 participants. Over the first day, the United Christian Broadcasting (UCB) Radio gave reports and updates on the event.
More details about Summer Madness can be found by visiting the website http://www.summermadness.co.uk/.