Sunshine, rock festivals, and Jesus add up to the ideal way to spend the summer for thousands of young Christians from coast to coast. Each area has its own angle. On a North Carolina beach the Gospel is preached from an ice cream parlor. In Texas 10,000 Baptist youth joined in a “spiritual blitz” of Fort Worth. And in California the July 4 message was “Come to Santa Barbara for sun and Son.”

Billed as Spiritual Independence Weekend, the Santa Barbara happenings included two afternoons of beach evangelism and a “Jesus is the Rock Festival” sponsored by Areopagus, a coffeehouse ministry.

Over a thousand people gathered in an open-air amphitheater in the hills south of Santa Barbara to hear the witness of California’s top Jesus-movement musicians. Surrounded by eucalyptus, pine, and live oak trees, the natural bowl was filled with the folk and rock sounds of groups such as Gentle Faith, Bridge, and Ron Salsbury and the J. C. Power Outlet. Solo performers included folksinger Larry Norman, jazz pianist and singer Tom Howard, flamenco guitarist Drew Crune, and blues guitarist Randy Stonehill.

Though the groups are all veterans of Jesus rock festivals, they agreed that this one was the “heaviest concert” in which they had ever performed.

“The Spirit was so heavy—there was a real movement of the Spirit,” explained David Carlson, associate director of Areopagus. In addition to the usual free-for-all singing, clapping, and shouting, personal testimonies and exhortations by the singers produced an unusual closeness among everyone present: long-haired Jesus people, young straights, older conservatives from local churches, and performers.

Though some responded to the altar call, the majority attending were Christians, and the festival was ...

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