My experience at the True Worship Summit (Day 3)

True Worship Summit 2018

Dear reader,

Well… I wanted to ponder a little about the experiences of the third day of the True Worship Summit before to write about it.

On this third day we supposed to have another workshop with Kim Burrell, and the assistants with the Platinum / VIP tickets a Meet & Greet with the artists, access to the soundcheck and first rows seating for a 5 hours concert/worship with Donald Lawrence, the Mass Choir composed by the singers who where rehearsing on the Choir Day on Thursday, Lurine Cato and the B-Positive Choir, Kim Burrell, Israel Houghton, Marvin Gapp and Kirk Franklin.

I can tell you now, that half of the things didn’t happen at all, and the other half were belated.

The workshop in the morning with Kim Burrell was cancelled and substituted by an improvised workshop with the awesome Bazil Meade, conductor of the London Community Gospel Choir, followed by a speech of the worshipper Noél Robinson.

I found that what Mr. Robinson said was really interesting and true: Gospel music is alive and evolving in Europe in a different way that did and is already doing in the USA. There is a new gospel happening in Europe: in Sweden, France, Latvia, Switzerland, Germany or Spain, just to mention a few. Musically influenced by many different styles and cultures, but still Gospel and still alive. We need to be concious of this reality and create a European network that favours this music and faith expression to reach its new potential for the future generations.

Then our Updates man, Dennis, showed up to tell us about more cancellations and changes. Some of the participants began to feel nervous and stressed what caused a quite tense situation and Mr. Meade and some other knowned faces of the festival showed up to apologize for the organizational mess, despite it had nothing to do with them. They had been put in a very tense situation without having any fault of the awful organization, and I think all the participants appreciated their efforts to keep the festival going and trying to fill the cancelled activities with other interesting things.

After that we had a short break for lunch, and the meet and greet that was programmed for 1pm, was delayed to 3pm. After that to 4pm. After that, just forever. We have all waited for hours at one of the smaller venues, where at least the put some refreshments for the participants. People started to get nervous, and we didn’t get any answers at all.

Then we headed to the soundcheck, and when Donald Lawrence arrived, no one of the organization was there to tell what to do or how shall we organize the Mass Choir. I must say that his attitude was completely calm and professional, and after seing that the organization was a complete mess, Donald said: “Well, I’m going to make an executive decision” (everyone cheered him) and just managed everything and organized the choir to his taste without losing his patience in any moment. I just adore this man!

Then we had to take our sits before the rest of the audience for the concert entered, and there was a real mess with the VIP/Platinum seating. All the volunteers tried their very best to manage the situation but just went beyond the pale. There was a girl that travelled from Germany and paid a lot of money for her ticket and with all the travel expenses, that just broked into tears because of the stress and disappointment of feeling cheated. Finally when everyone was accommodated (many of the people not in the seats that they’ve paid for), they opened the doors for the general tickets. When everyone was seated, the concert began (3 hours after the original scheduled time).

Everyone was willing to forget the bad moments and to enjoy a great final concert with all the artists. I had a great time listening to the B-Positive Choir and Lurine Cato, who raised awareness about the sick cell disease and the importance of giving blood.

After that we had the privilege of listening to the incredible voice of Kim Burrell. Donald Lawrence and the Mass Choir was a great moment and performance to see. Despite I was at the Choir Day, finally I preferred to see and enjoy the show than joining the choir on the stage. It was just so beautiful to see and listen to! He and the choir just rocked the whole auditorium! Also there was a group of very cute children doing a graceful praise dance.

After that came Marvin Gapp to the stage, and oh what a disappointment, I didn’t expected that. He came with some backing tracks that sounded awful and jumped like a broken record. After listening to a couple of songs of him, I decided to go out of the auditorium. Being there since the morning with all this mess and stress was just too much for me.

I met a friend at the bar just in front of the Dominion Center, and we followed on social media what was going on from there with a cold beer. Israel Houghton didn’t showed up to the concert, but the show ended with a great performance of Kirk Franklin and his awesome energy.

I’ve been thinking a couple of days about what to say or not about this crazy last day, and finally I decided just to be honest with my experience and how I lived this third day of the True Worship Summit.

My conclusions of the event:

The original idea of the True Worship Summit was just awesome and necessary, I feel that it is a concept that needs to have a continuity. We had some great moments in there!

You really need to do something with the organization of the event. It is unbelievable that with this high-level line up the organization was such a mess. You were really lucky to have a great team of volunteers that did a lot to help people and try to have the situation under a certain control, despite of not having a clear manager at all. This boys and girls deserve heaven just for what they had to go through during the event, specially on this third caotic day.

My sincere admiration for Mr. Bazil Meade, Dennis and all the people that just stepped in front of a not very happy audience and that did their best to save the event.

Mr. Donald Lawrence: you are the “Sir” of the actual Gospel music. With your calm, your elegance, your savoir-faire and your incredible talent you just have win over our hearts. It has been a privilege to enjoy your presence and your lessons during those days.

To the organizators: despite that this event was about spiritual empowerment, God and Gospel music, in the moment that you make people pay for money for it, it becomes a business. People is paying for a service that you are offering, and you are legally forced to provide the services announced. Did you ever heard about that? Please! Was there really a plannification of the event? What happened there? There were people travelling from all over Europe who made a big investment not only in the tickets, but in all the travel expenses. What you did was just disrespectful with all of us and completely unnacceptable. And you did a real harm, because you endangered the continuity of a very necessary and good event idea because of your irresponsibility. Many of the people that came this year may not come to a next edition because they felt cheated by you. Some artists may not come back or may not join because they don’t want to be part of this chaos.

You had a good luck to hire a bunch of great artists and professionals that were just so outstanding that eclipsed (at least partially) the organizational mess. This may save the event for future editions, and I really do hope that there will be more editions of the True Worship Summit. I truly believe it is a great idea that shall continue to empower and encourage the European Gospel movement.

But the next time, please do it well. Keep on working. Listen to the feedback of the people to improve for future editions. Make a Plan. Make a Plan B in case something happens. And a plan C just in case all that fails. Don’t send e-mails offering the tickets half price just a couple of hours before the final concert. People were completely upset about that and commenting it before the final concert, don’t forget that you’ve sent those e-mails to your whole database, including the people that already purchased the tickets at the full price.

Please don’t missunderstand me: in this article I want to be just so filterless as Kim Burrell, as I feel that someone needs to tell you the truth to help you see what went wrong and to improve it for future editions. I really want to help because I believe in the concept of the True Worship Summit as a global series of conferences and events related to the Gospel that can gather people from many nations. And this needs to be continued.

Learn from this experience to make it for the future the event that really deserves to be.

Sincerely,

Marina