Editor’s Note: Ashley Bayne, producer of Alter: The Movement of Change, this year’s open-to-the-public concert during Hutchmoot, reflects on some of the experiences of change that went into choosing the theme of this year’s show (October 6, 7:30-9:00). You can get tickets and learn more at Universe.com.
A few months ago, I was invited by the Hutchmoot team to produce a show for the Friday evening of the 2023 conference. The year prior to COVID, I put together a show called “WELL” for Hutchmoot, which featured Sara Groves, Andrew Peterson, and Ella Mine, among many others. It explored the idea of mental health and wellness through a Kingdom lens with personal stories and music. Mental health was a hot topic that year and putting the show together was my way of sitting with this topic and gaining a deeper understanding of its role in my life, my community, and the world. I was asked, could I do something like that again? At first, I was nervous. A great deal has changed since 2019. Then, I realized that’s exactly why I needed to take the project on.
This time last year, I was awaiting the arrival of my 4th child, due in mid-October. After her arrival, I would quit my job to stay home full-time; a job I loved with some of the loveliest people I knew. The regular rhythm of sitters and breaks that I enjoyed from my kids wouldn’t fit in the budget anymore, and the extra income that made life more comfortable would be gone for a season, making us more conscious of each dollar spent. But there was also a sweet new squishy baby to be held and loved and enjoyed in the fleeting newborn days. There was a village of friends and family that showed up to help in all sorts of ways that tore down my self-sufficient walls and flooded us with love, encouragement, and friendship that has permanently altered how I exist in the world.
Since that moment in October of 2022 when the baby arrived, life has felt as if it was tipped on its head. It has been full of moments, decisions, and experiences that permanently altered my trajectory; friends moving away, new work for my husband, and a search for a new church family. I find myself telling the stories of all that has happened lately to help me process. Whether desired or not, planned or unexpected, my stories all circle around the theme of change.
As I ruminated on all the change since my last Hutchmoot show in 2019, I realized it’s actually been since the beginnings of COVID that I have found myself in an overwhelming and unrelenting sea of change, and I know I’m not the only one.
In 2021, 48 million people quit their jobs – a phenomenon aptly dubbed, “The Great Resignation”. One study reported that only 15% of churches described their congregational attendance numbers as “steady” over the past 3 years. Homeschooling enrollment has increased by an estimated 30% since 2019. These all signify huge shifts in the lives of millions. Not one of us is alone in our grappling with the plethora of “new normals” that we are facing.
In light of the changes we have all experienced, what better theme could there be for this year’s Hutchmoot show than change itself? So the Alter event was born.
Alter will be a chance to pause and simply sit with the idea of change, acknowledge its presence and role in our lives, to recognize how life has been altered these past three years, to mourn, celebrate, and honor those changes before diving back into the deep turbulent life-altering waters of daily life. Above all, it will be a time to remember that God, unlike all of creation, exists completely outside of the grasp of change, and yet chose to change—to be born as a baby, to grow as a man, to die as a human—for our sake.
On October 6 at 7:30 pm at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, we are going to sit with this big idea of change and consider where it all might be leading. In the end, we’ll celebrate a God who is in it all yet remains unchanging in his promises and faithfulness.
Our time together, while not quite a concert nor exactly a worship service, will be filled with music, words, and movement through dance all working together to help us along as we pause and contemplate together.
I’m excited to have a variety of guests joining us, each with a unique perspective and their own stories of change:
Jon Guerra, an accomplished singer-songwriter whose beautiful, poignant and honest songs have been the soundtrack of my life through this year of transitions.
Odessa Settles, a wise friend and incredibly accomplished vocalist and activist who has lived through more change than most of us may ever experience.
Sho Baraka, a multi-talented writer and hip-hop artist with his own story of change to tell.
My hope is that in the words and music these fine artists share, we’ll find some collective revelations about the nature of change and the nature of our God, and that we’ll all leave with a sense of greater communion with each other knowing we are walking this ever-changing experience of being human together.
I hope you’ll join us. You can purchase tickets today at Universe.com.